U.S. limits visas for pregnant women in effort to end 'birth tourism'

The U.S. Department of State building is seen in Washington D.C

The draft guidance to be issued for consular officers reads: "Any B nonimmigrant visa applicant who you have reason to believe will give birth during her stay in the United States is presumed to be traveling for the primary goal of obtaining USA citizenship for the child".

But they would have to determine whether a visa applicant would be coming to the United States primarily to give birth. The applicants will have to prove they are coming for medical treatment and they have the money to pay for it.

"Foreign governments or entities, including entities of concern to the United States, may seek to benefit from birth tourism for purposes that would threaten the security of the United States".

The State Department said that precisely estimating the number of individuals who give birth in the United States after entering the country on tourist visas "is challenging" since the agency does not publish data regarding applicants' reasons for travel.

In the draft guidance, consular officers are not permitted to ask if the applicant is pregnant or intends to become pregnant.

He threatened to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship, which he called a "magnet" for illegal immigration and so-called "anchor babies".

Almost any child born in the US gets automatic citizenship - a law US President Donald Trump has criticised.

The State Department said in the new rule that birth tourism "poses risks to national security" and that the industry is also "rife with criminal activity, including worldwide criminal schemes".

Another 39,000 foreign women here on other visas, such as student or work visas, also give birth.

"The most troubling effect of this regulation is likely to be on women coming to the United States to give birth because of a medical need", wrote Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce on Twitter. He is also expected to expand his 2017 travel ban to several new countries - including Belarus, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania - as early as Monday to mark the anniversary of the current restrictions on eight nations.

"Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice", White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "But my fear is that by giving them one more tool in their arsenal to vet prospective applicants, it will be that much more hard for a female applicant to obtain lawful entry into the United States just because she's female".

A State Department spokesperson who spoke to BuzzFeed said the rule change "is meant to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry". Numerous women travel from Russian Federation and China to give birth in the U.S.

"The rule itself invites discrimination against women", said Tom Jawetz, a lawyer and the vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress.



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