House bill seeks to prevent immigrant ‘birth tourism’

Several House Republicans have proposed a bill that would prevent pregnant immigrants from entering the United States in order to stop them from giving birth in the U.S. to obtain citizenship for their children:

The Stop Birth Tourism Act, from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is the latest GOP attempt to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.

In a letter to his House colleagues seeking support for the bill, Rohrabacher said U.S. consular officers are allowed to turn immigrants away for several reasons, but not for reasons related to what he says is “birth tourism.”

“[T]hey do not have the ability to refuse a tourist visa if a pregnant foreigner is likely to come to the United States solely for the purpose of giving birth,” he wrote. “My proposal would correct this problem by giving consular officers the authority to deem an alien as ineligible to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa if the officer determines she is likely to give birth in the U.S. if admitted.”

Rohrabacher says birth tourism has led to an industry of “maternity hotels”:

“These maternity hotels are normally single-family homes in our neighborhoods that host numerous pregnant foreigners for months at a time, violating local zoning laws and putting an undue burden on our neighborhoods, hospitals and local governments,” he wrote. “Rarely do these maternity hotels have the ability to care for ill mothers and/or their babies, resulting in hospital visits that unfairly come at the cost of the American taxpayers.”

The bill “may require” that a woman seeking to enter the U.S. provide certification by a healthcare provider that she is not pregnant. If if she is pregnant, some certification may be required “as to the status of the pregnancy.”

GOP sponsors of the bill are Reps. Buddy Carter, Ga.; Mike Conaway, Texas; Scott DesJarlais, Tenn.; Louie Gohmert, Texas; Paul Gosar, Ariz.; Sam Johnson, Texas; Walter Jones, N.C.; Steve King, Iowa; Pete Olson, Texas; and Ryan Zinke, Mont.