After having been busted for a scheme to have U.S. citizen babies here, Chinese women are fighting to stay in the country despite allegedly committing visa fraud.
Seven of the maternity hotel clients have procured the services of Irvine lawyer Ken Z. Liang, according to the OC Register. “Everything was in a state of stress and disarray,” Liang said in regards to one maternity hotel operation that federal agents raided over a week ago. “They were expecting a lot of peace and quiet.”
The maternity tourism schemes have been investigated in regards to visa fraud, marriage fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and conspiracy.
Clients of the maternity tourism scheme in question, You Win USA, paid between $40,000 and $80,000 to the scheme’s owners, Chao Chen and Dong Li, to facilitate the allegedly fraudulent visa applications, travel, lodging and meals. According to warrant documents, the fees did not include medical fees that investigators say often went under or un-paid.
Liang responded to the claims that his new clients didn’t pay, saying that clients get price reductions for paying in full, reported the Register.
Family members have reportedly taken flights into the U.S. from China in join the women attempting to remain in America through the remainder of their pregnancies. Liang said, the Register reported, “All the families I talked with have accepted their current predicament, but they are angry at You Win pregnancy center for telling them their operation was completely legal. And all the individuals paid a premium to be at this so-called legal, seven-star pregnancy center.”
Twenty-eight of those connected to the maternity tourism schemes have been designated as material witnesses, according to court documents referenced in the Register. Material witnesses are required to remain in the country, say government officials and the L.A. branch of the U.S. Attorney’s office.
No charges have yet been filed against any of the three maternity tourism schemes, and government officials are reportedly not targeting the pregnant women or other clients of the businesses despite the appearance to investigators of their complicity with visa fraud.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana