Federal agents have launched a major crackdown on what they say is a big industry that helps wealthy Chinese women have American babies. Agents raided 37 addresses in California yesterday in the crackdown on "birth tourism" rings that allegedly charge up to $60,000 to help the women come to the US and have babies that automatically become US citizens, reports the New York Times. Investigators, who said they were seeking evidence of visa fraud and other crimes, could be seen carting away boxes of documents and interviewing pregnant women at upscale apartment complexes, the Los Angeles Times reports.
It's not illegal for a pregnant woman to come to the US and have a baby, which could help her become a US resident herself after her child turns 21, but investigators say the businesses being investigated illegally coached the women on how to lie on visa applications and convince immigration authorities that they were visiting the US for the purpose of tourism, the Orange County Register reports. "Birth tourists" also come to the US from countries such as Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan, and while it's not clear just how many people are involved, one affidavit relating to yesterday's raid estimated 40,000 of the 300,000 children born to foreign citizens in the US every year are born to birth tourists, reports the LA Times. (Read more birth tourism stories.)