In California, 'birth tourism' appears to grow

Article author: 
Richard Chang
Article publisher: 
The Sacramento Bee
Article date: 
24 September 2012
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

...Shih personifies an immigration trend that can be seen as the mirror opposite of those teens and young adults who came to this country illegally as children and are now trying to secure legal residency.

Eight months pregnant, Shih's mother legally entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1989. Two months after giving birth at a Manhattan hospital, she returned to Taiwan with her U.S. passport-bearing daughter in tow.

The family acknowledges it planned the birth so that Shih could become a U.S. citizen and eventually go to school here...

Critics call it "birth tourism" and the practice is solidly entrenched in the Los Angeles area, though so-called maternity homes catering to expectant mothers from East Asia are also advertised in the San Francisco Bay Area...


In 2010, the mothers of 7,719 children born in the United States reported that they lived overseas, according to the National Center for Health Statistics – a figure up nearly 55 percent since 2000.

Critics say the data vastly understate the number, because they use information self-reported by parents during their hospital stays...

For $3,000 to $6,000 a month, the maternity homes provide three meals a day, transportation and child care, according to Chang. They even make arrangements with Chinese doctors in the United States who charge $7,000 for a birth.

"Expect to spend $15,000 if you want an American-born baby," Chang said.