In a bid to curb the number of foreigners gaining American citizenship through birth, the Donald Trump administration is set to announce plans to reduce the number of pregnant women coming into the United States(US).
It has become a common practice amongst Nigerian women of middle and upper class to give birth to their babies in the US.
According to State Department guidance sent on Wednesday and seen by The Associated Press(AP), *visa applicants deemed by consular officers to be coming to the US primarily to give birth will now be treated like other foreigners coming to the US for medical treatment.”
The applicants will have to prove they are going for medical treatment and they have the money to pay for it.
Two government officials told AP that the State Department planned to publicise the rules soon.
The practice of going to the US to give birth is fundamentally legal, although there are scattered cases of authorities arresting operators of birth tourism agencies for visa fraud or tax evasion. Women are often honest about their intentions when applying for visas and even show signed contracts with doctors and hospitals.
The Trump administration has been restricting all forms of immigration, but the president has been particularly plagued by the issue of birthright citizenship, anyone born in the US is considered a citizen under the American constitution.
Trump has railed against the practice and threatened to end it, but scholars and members of his administration have said it’s not so easy to do.
Birth tourism is a lucrative business in both the US and other developed countries. American companies take out advertisements and charge up to $80,000 to facilitate the practice, offering hotel rooms and medical care.
Many of the women travel from Russia, Nigeria and China to give birth in the US and the government has been cracking down on the practice since Trump took office in 2017.
A State Department spokeperson said the draft rule is “intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry.”