I Want an American Baby! Chinese Women Flock to the U.S. to Give Birth

Lured by U.S. citizenship for their children, thousands of Chinese women give birth annually in the States, supporting a thriving birth-tourism industry

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Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty Images

A woman feeds a baby in a residential area in Beijing on Aug. 8, 2013

The soon-to-be Chinese father was getting ready to go to America. His wife, due to give birth to their son any day, was already there. Like any expectant parents, the Shanghai couple agonized over how best to prepare for the arrival — and upbringing — of their firstborn child. American citizenship, they decided, was one of the finest gifts they could bestow. “America is the strongest country in the world,” says the Shanghai native, whose son was born just days after he eventually arrived in California this month. “We want our child to have the best future.”

The U.S. is one of the few nations where simply being born on its soil confers citizenship on a newborn. That policy has spawned a birth-tourism industry, in which pregnant foreigners flock to American hospitals to secure U.S. passports for their babies. Although the foreign couple can’t acquire U.S. nationality themselves, once their American-born offspring turn 21 they can theoretically sponsor their parents for future U.S. citizenship. Another perk: these American-born kids can take advantage of the U.S. education system, even paying lower in-state fees for public universities, depending on where they were delivered. (California is a popular birth-tourism destination because of its well-known university system.)

More rich Chinese than ever are sending their families and money abroad. One study of Chinese millionaires found that half had either emigrated or were thinking of doing so. Boston Consulting Group estimates that Chinese have some $450 billion stockpiled overseas. What’s driving the exodus? Some wealthy citizens are spooked about the impact of an anticorruption campaign on their murkily sourced income. Others worry about the long-term risks of raising their kids in a polluted environment with dirty air, water and food. The pressure-cooker atmosphere of Chinese schools makes overseas schooling attractive. And even though China’s draconian one-child policy is being loosened, some couples feel it’s easier to give birth overseas and circumvent meddling by Chinese family-planning bureaucrats.

All of which has led to a proliferation of so-called anchor babies. At least 10,000 such Chinese babies were born in America last year, according to an estimate by an online platform dedicated to monitoring and rating confinement centers for Chinese women giving birth in the States. Naturally, a thriving business catering to these tiny foreign passport holders has developed. The Jia Mei Canadian and American Baby Counseling Services Center, with offices across China, charges between $30,000 and $40,000 to women who want to deliver babies in the States. The fee includes a plane ticket, accommodation in Los Angeles or Chicago in a two- or three-bedroom apartment or house, plus all the citizenship paperwork for the newborn. Women spend two months in the U.S. before delivery and one month postpartum. Nannies, drivers and a chef will be shared among three women, promises Jia Mei. Of course, Chinese-speaking doctors will be on call.

Last month, Jia Mei, which has been in business for seven years, helped eight clients give birth in the U.S. and another six in Canada, according to an employee surnamed Lu. The agency’s extensive website features pictures of cheerful blond kids — though it’s not clear how the average Chinese couple will produce such a child. A 24-hour online hotline allows clients in the U.S. or China to write in with any question they might have. The agency even offers a primer on how the U.S. welfare system works and recommends the best organic beauty products for pregnant Chinese staying in the States.

The Shanghai couple didn’t use an agency. An English-speaking sales manager, the wife simply procured a business visa to the U.S. — something she had successfully done before — and set up camp in Rowland Heights, Calif. The L.A. County community, among others, has become notorious for a proliferation of “maternity hotels” for privileged expectant mothers from China. She has hired a nanny for her son and expects to return to Shanghai with the newborn in a month’s time, after the U.S.-passport paperwork is completed.

China doesn’t allow for dual citizenship, so American-born babies will have to procure Chinese residency through sometimes shady means. (Yes, there are plenty of agencies that help with that task as well.) There are other catches. Eventually, young Americans, even those living abroad, are supposed to file tax returns and possibly pay taxes, something that’s not widely known among many Chinese parents. Jia Mei’s website, for instance, doesn’t mention this potential financial obligation.

The Shanghai father doesn’t expect his son to return to America until he’s in junior high school and can profit from the relative freedom of the U.S. education system. But his wife has so enjoyed her time in California that she’s considering adjusting their timetable. “My wife thinks the air in L.A. is very good, and the food safety is good,” he says. “The weird thing is that many products are actually cheaper in America than in China. Maybe it makes sense for my son to live there sooner rather than later.”

With reporting by Chengcheng Jiang / Beijing

845 comments
MorganReale
MorganReale

Everyone forgot - they have access to Social Services 

Medicaid

Food stamps

Housing HUD

Pell Grant and subsidized student loans

The Russians are doing it now -  we have to change the law 

Carol1
Carol1

 It does not matter anymore. We will all be Chinese soon so who really cares? Chinese  genetics are the strongest in the world, stronger than people in the continent of Africa. Chinese people are in every country and every continent,look at  (china town europe) in wikipedia.  Chinese are all over Africa and every continent. This is the only people you will find on every continent with there own towns in their names. No one talks about it though. I guess people are freaked out. Its strange that these people who are suppose to be xenophobic are on every continent but no other people are doing what they are doing. Sure you may find a few of certain people in some places but not everywhere!  Oh and don't forget to check out Prato , Spain or Senegal,Dakar  in Africa.  For some reason people decided to go over to the Western European countries  and the continent of Africa in the 80's . Fascinating stuff though.


Alfa
Alfa

Countries allow citizenship in different ways:

1. JURE (or JUS) SANGUINIS = by right of blood.  For example, your family must be Irish for you to be considered a citizen of Ireland.  You don't have to be born in Ireland, but you do have to have Irish blood (grandparents).  This is to help the Irish diaspora (and many other nations' diaspora).  In many countries if your parents are not citizens of that country you are not a citizen either -- even if you are born and raised there.  You are not considered a citizen until you apply for citizenship when you come of age (and are subsequently granted citizenship).


2. JURE (or JUS) SOLI = by right of land, soil.  You just have to be born in the country to be considered a citizen.  If you are born in Switzerland, for example, and your parents are not Swiss, you are not Swiss.  JURE SOLIS does not exist in Switzerland.


3. NATURALIZATION.  You're a foreigner, apply for citizenship and fulfill that country's eligibility requirements to be considered for citizenship.

These are not policies, but LAW.


N.B.  Some countries, like the USA, Canada,and Ireland have both JURE SANGUINIS and SOLI.  Germany, for example, just added JURE SOLI.

JericoCruz
JericoCruz

Isn't this a national security issue? Imagine how easily those children can come back here after growing up fed with CCP's propaganda and conduct espionage. 

jewamongyou
jewamongyou

I wonder what proportion of those babies are boys. We don't need China's gender imbalance here. We also don't need stupid policies like bestowing citizenship on somebody just for being born here.

jinbailong
jinbailong

Non-Whites flock to White majority nations because Whites build the most desirable societies.

But when Whites become a minority due to low birth rates and high non-White birth rates, will the US still be as desirable?

NOPE!

How long are non-Whites going to keep taking advantage of White tolerance, compassion, altruism and stupidity?

pelofsky
pelofsky

I think this is a much more complex issue than what many of these comments would suggest.  First, let's acknowledge that the Chinese are coming here because they recognize the opportunities that this country has to offer.  Also, let's remember that these are rich people who will come here and probably pay more in taxes than is spent on them by the US government.  Additionally, while 10,000 babies sounds like a lot, there are something like 4 million babies born here each year.  So the Chinese millionaire babies are about 1/4 of one percent.  Hardly a flood.  In the long run, it seems to me that the more rich Chinese people care about the US, the better.  Eventually China will have to build their own country to keep this brain and money drain from ruining their economy.  Having all of these ties to the US and an interest in seeing us succeed can't be all bad.  Remember, this is a country of immigrants.  My family came over, dirt poor, over 100 years ago!  Now we are doctors, lawyers, and business people.  I would like to think, hopefully not immodestly, that my family has been a net gain to the US!

Rob1271
Rob1271

The bleeding to death of America by a thousand cuts continues, and right out in the open. I guess we get what we deserve.

Guest67
Guest67

Sumtin Wong with our immigration policy.

Bradmet
Bradmet

Quit frocking to U.S.

awlee
awlee

This is more like rich foreign people becoming refugees escaping from stricter laws and polluted environments. After a while of staying in America, even the most brain washed Chinese people will grow to love the Freedoms of this country. They will love America. I just hope the come to America sooner as children if they are planning to pursue a PhD in Engineering, because my current professors have some thick accents that are hard to understand.

gusm
gusm

So we have now more and more Chinese communists with American citizenship. That can't be good for America. 

jerryku7
jerryku7

I cringed a bit when I read the whole "draconian one child policy, meddlesome family planning bureaucrats" part. According to Pew Research (the research group that Madeleine Albright is a part of), something like 75% of Chinese people supported the one-child policy. It's not hard to see why. Even after the one-child policy was started in 1979, the Chinese population went from 1 billion to 1.3 billion. Which means a two-child policy wasn't even in effect the whole time.

And the irony of this is that anti-immigration sentiments this article fuels have the same core principles behind the one child policy: there isn't enough public money to go around for an unlimited amounts of citizens in any given country, be it China or the US.



brownandturquoise
brownandturquoise

I unfortunately know way too many couples that come from all over the world to give birth in the US, then skip on the bill.  They think they are giving their child a "gift", but they are starting off their life by committing theft or a crime.  What a lesson!


Thenest
Thenest

Here is our solution to the anchor baby problem - and yes it has become a major problem.  Any foreign citizen who comes to this country and is ready to deliver here should be sent to a hospital within the confines of the embassy of the country of their origin.  Therefore they will not be "on American soil" and as such will also not be American citizens.  Either come legally or don't come at all!

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

US Citizenship has always depended on consent, from the very beginning. First a consent to support the American revolution and, then after the US Const. was adopted, to consent to support and abide by it. This is why our present court rulings allowing the offspring of illegal aliens born in this country birthright US citizenship is unconstitutional.

ex animo

davidfarrar

gogglesPizano
gogglesPizano

It's only ok to immigrate illegally if the parents/kids will be immediately enrolled in government welfare foodstamp, auto Democratic vote probrams.   Educated, accomplished Chinese people that may think for themselves not wanted by Uncle Barry

TrevorKhurana
TrevorKhurana

We should have an immediate Amendment banning the right to Citizenship in such cases. Also, State Department overseas, needs to roll up its sleeves granting Visas

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

We need to reword the first sentence of the 14th Amendment to state clearly that an American birthright can only be given to a person born of at least one US citizen, and that an Art. II, §1, cl. 4 natural born US citizen is a person born of two citizens.

ex animo

davidfarrar

AureaKringle
AureaKringle

COmmunist China trains US Citizens to be Chinese then sends them back to US to spy.



AureaKringle
AureaKringle

selling citizenship... Chinese people would make money off anything/

Isnt that illegal?   Of course, chinese love illegal things.

valeofignorance
valeofignorance

LOL. Anyone can become American... but no one can become Chinese. Now that's equality - anti-White style.

dahan
dahan

@JericoCruzThis is crazy.  1. Chinese people are more capitalistic than Americans.  2. These people just want the same thing you do: clean air, safe food and a place where rule of law prevails.


dahan
dahan

@jewamongyouIt would be interesting to see what proportion of children coming into China are boys or girls?  Given the discrimination against women in China, it would be telling if women are bringing daughters to the US for a better life.


ky.blue
ky.blue

@jewamongyou Not that likely to happen because of something this article doesn't mention: the one-child policy does not apply to couples having children in the United States.  That is, if you've already had your one child in China, you can have a second in the USA without penalty.  

dahan
dahan

@gusmCommunists?  Ha.  Chinese are probably more capitalistic than most Americans.  While the China government does exercise strong controls over freedom of information and expression and controls the media the average Chinese knows that they have to look for themselves.  America was based on immigrants and we benefit today from their contributions.  The influx of engineering talent from India and China is making us stronger.


WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@gusm Yes, those Communists and their extremely rapidly expanding market economy policies and economy (yes, they still have some state industries, but that's not what has moved their economy to the 2nd largest in the world).

Dan1953b
Dan1953b

@jerryku7 Why do Americans believe this? There is no such thing as a one-child policy in China. And certainly not a Draconian one.

Dan1953b
Dan1953b

@Thenest Foreign Embassies in America....are in America. That is why they are Embassies. 

And I doubt many have hospitals in them. 

So that would solve nothing, and likely be very illegal. And the kids will still be American.

calpharmdoc
calpharmdoc

@ky.blue @jewamongyou Actually, it's now legal to have 2 children in China.  But, pregnant women from China and other countries will keeping coming to the U.S. to have babies in order to take advantage of automatic citizenship for the baby plus likely free healthcare, food, education, subsidized housing, etc. for the whole family, due to the stupidity of American legislators who allow this absurd law to persist.

WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @jerryku7 You mean the one they just eased up on a bit that allows couples to have two children IF both of their sets of parents were also all only children? There has to be a one child policy to adjust a one child policy.

jewamongyou
jewamongyou

@shaunlybee @valeofignorance When the Han Chinese succeed in making the Tibetans minorities in their own country, will you then say, "Tibet is a Tibetan country? What?" The 1964 immigration act was a genocidal act; its purpose was to make whites a minority in their own country. And no, the Indians who lived here prior to that did NOT have their own country. They had many different nations, but none that could be called "America" as it was created by Europeans later on.

WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @WorldKyle Because I don't concur with you. There is a one child policy. There are many exceptions to that one child policy allowing many groups of people to have more than one child. However, there are still certain groups of people in China to which the one child policy applies as even reported by Chinese state media.

Dan1953b
Dan1953b

@WorldKyle Maybe they are! I am sure sensationalistic journalism is not an exclusive American right. 

But why are you trying to push this issue if you concur with me that it is not true?

WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @WorldKyle @jerryku7 Well, I've never gotten anything like that out of the American media. The often discuss the exceptions especially with sources like NPR. The rural exception especially is pretty widely known, I thought.


Dan1953b
Dan1953b

@WorldKyle @Dan1953b @jerryku7 Then see, you know already then. As you mentioned, even in the SPECIFIC AREAS where the rule applies, there are still many exceptions to the rule.

American media portrays this as you can only have one child-period! After that, if you have a second, they kill you and the baby! Or put you in a Wal*Mart or Apple forced labor camp and sterilize you! lol

That is another example of the terrible American media. Those Apple contractors(Foxcon?) pay their employees excellent, provide housing, food, great benefits, great working conditions, etc.

WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @WorldKyle @jerryku7 In fact, I have lived in South Korea (I even co-hosted a TV show there [though not a very good one]). Yes, I've studied and work at a university. And of course not every family in China only has one child because by all accounts (I suppose all part of the conspiracy myth) with all of the many exceptions to the (fantasy) policy, the policy only applies to fewer than 40% of Chinese people. And by the way, my job involves me working with Chinese citizens every single day I'm in my office. About 50% of the people I meet with in my job are Chinese citizens. 


Dan1953b
Dan1953b

@WorldKyle @Dan1953b @jerryku7 My proof is the fact that every single family that lived in the same 5 different provinces I lived in all had like 15 kids.


Have you ever lived in other countries? Or studied any academia? It is incredible the garbage in the news in America that we accept as facts. Much worse since the internet age. Where anything listed under a URL is automatically "reality", even if it changed five minutes later.

We had an old saying in America to gullible people that believed sensationalistic news bits: "Do you believe anything you read, just, because it is in the paper?"

Beijing and Shanghai do not give extra welfare to families with more than one child. Beijing and Shanghai are not the whole of China. And in places where your kids can contribute to their own livelihood through farm work or family trade, they have as many kids as they possible can! 

You can also find this information online if you can't get to China to see for yourself....

WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @WorldKyle @jerryku7 So every media and news source outside of China has created a myth? A myth that they've been running with since 1979? And once in awhile they just make up a new part of the myth all together at once about China making adjustments to that non-existent policy? That's a pretty elaborate conspiracy (and it's not just in American media).  I had lost faith in American media being able to do anything competently in their now total quest for profits, but I'm now impressed by their ability to coordinate mass conspiracies! 


WorldKyle
WorldKyle

@Dan1953b @WorldKyle @jerryku7 So where is your proof that all of these hundreds of sites with information on the one child policy are lies and a myth? Just saying it's a vast conspiracy of lies doesn't make it true either.