Pregnant women from China discovered in California “Chinese birthing houses” could likely still give birth in the U.S. during the course of a massive investigation into multiple “maternity tourism” schemes. “Birth tourism” operations bring pregnant women into the U.S. for the purpose of giving birth on U.S. soil, giving their babies U.S. citizenship.
Search warrants executed at 37 locations Tuesday and some 13 additional locations searched led to the seizure of large amounts of evidence. Paying customers encountered in Tuesday’s raids were taken in for questioning by immigration agents.
“We encountered not only clients of the business on Tuesday, but also other witnesses,” an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson told Breitbart California. “Who will be designated as a material witness is still being determined by the court,” she said. Designated material witnesses will be required to stay in the U.S. as the investigation advances.
Pregnant customers that are required to stay in the country during the investigation could give birth during that time. Those children, born on U.S. soil, would conceivably still receive U.S. citizenship. ICE is not releasing information at this time on whether any of the women will be deported.
Investigative authorities are now reviewing confiscated documents that are expected to aid in the furtherance of potential criminal action against the operators of these maternity tourism schemes. It has not yet been determined whether criminal action will be taken against customers that made false statements in order to obtain visas to travel from China to the U.S.
One search warrant pertaining to the operation of one of the schemes, USA Happy Baby Inc. specifically noted that “Several of the customers of Lui and Dong’s immigration fraud scheme have been identified as being employed by the Chinese government, including in the provinces of Ningxia and Hanan, China.”
“We anticipated that the publicity produced from releasing information on Tuesday’s seizures may produce additional leads and information and it certainly has done that,” the ICE spokesperson told Breitbart.
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