Three “birth tourism” agencies secured citizenship for more than 8,500 babies born to foreign nationals, primarily from China, and profited at least $7 million in the process, federal prosecutors say.
An unsealed federal indictment details the widespread business practice known as birth tourism in the state of California, owned and operated almost exclusively by and for Chinese nationals.
The U.S.-born children of foreign nationals, specifically those visiting the U.S. and illegal aliens, are commonly known as “anchor babies.” There are at least 4.5 million anchor babies in the country, a population that exceeds the total number of annual American births in 48 states, as about 300,000 anchor babies are born every year. Currently, the U.S. and Canada are the only developed nations in the world that offer unrestricted birthright citizenship.
The indictment is the first of its kind, targeting the owners and customers of the Chinese birth tourism industry in California. Even though customers were generally wealthy Chinese nationals, federal authorities say they skipped out on paying hospital bills in the U.S. to have their children in order to secure them U.S. citizenship.
“These cases allege a wide array of criminal schemes that sought to defeat our immigration laws – laws that welcome foreign visitors so long as they are truthful about their intentions when entering the country,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District California Nick Hanna said in a statement.
“Statements by the operators of these birthing houses show contempt for the United States, while they were luring clients with the power and prestige of U.S. citizenship for their children,” Hanna continued. “Some of the wealthy clients of these businesses also showed blatant contempt for the U.S. by ignoring court orders directing them to stay in the country to assist with the investigation and by skipping out on their unpaid hospital bills.”
The three indictments detail how three different birth tourism companies — You Win USA, Star Baby Care, and USA Happy Baby Inc. — allegedly operated for decades in the state. Orange County-based You Win USA, for example, is accused of securing U.S. citizenship for the children of at least 500 Chinese nationals.
One business called "You Win USA" allegedly brought pregnant Chinese nationals to the U.S. for $80K in order to secure birthright citizenship for their child. https://t.co/jQAgH7qXNJ
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) February 1, 2019
The company, operated by 41-year-old Dongyuan Li, put pregnant foreign nationals up in about 20 apartments in Irvine, California and profited $3 million in just two years while charging customers anywhere between $40,000 to $80,000 for the service, federal prosecutors allege.
“The indictment details communications in which Li referred to U.S. immigration authorities as ‘the foreigners’ and also discussed whether to refund a down payment because, once the customer found out ‘the baby is a girl, her husband arranged abortion for her,'” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said in a news release.
Star Baby Care, operated by 65-year-old Wen Rui Deng who is believed to have fled to China, was based in Los Angeles County and secure U.S. citizenship for at least 8,000 babies born to Chinese nationals and citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan since 1999. Prosecutors say about 4,000 of those babies were born to Chinese women who came to the U.S. to get theiir child American citizenship.
“The indictment alleges that Deng’s scheme used 30 apartments in Rowland Heights and 10 properties in Irvine, including some houses,” ICE officials note. “Deng’s scheme served many customers alleged to be Chinese officials, including some associated with Chinese Central Television, China Telecom, Bank of China, and two local taxation bureaus.”
The San Bernardino County-based USA Happy Baby Inc., owned and operated by 53-year-old Michael Wei Yueh Liu and 42-year-old Jing Don, allegedly charged “VIP” foreign nationals upwards of $100,000 to obtain U.S. citizenship for their unborn children.
“Using apartments in Rancho Cucamonga and Irvine, USA Happy Baby allegedly also served Chinese officials, including people associated with the Henan People’s Radio Station in Zhengzhou, the Public Security Bureau in the Beijing Municipal Government, and the Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang Province,” ICE officials said.
The pair allegedly used 14 different bank accounts to operate the birth tourism business and profited more than $3.4 million in 2013 and 2014, alone.
About one-in-five U.S. births — or 791,000 — are to legal and illegal immigrant mothers, with legal immigrant mothers accounting for about 12.4 percent of those births and illegal alien mothers accounting for 7.5 percent.
The U.S. Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled that the children of illegal aliens must be granted automatic American citizenship, and many legal scholars dispute the idea. Trump promised last year to end birthright citizenship through executive action, but the order has yet to be revealed or signed.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.