got the news story of their dreams this month, when city inspectors in San Gabriel, California, shut down a facility for
where pregnant women would come to give birth to their babies in America, so the children would be American citizens. Anchor babies! Lined up in bassinets! Political mythology had turned into an actual market segment; it was like finding a Cadillac dealership that took food stamps.
Faced with the question of whether the San Gabriel case had any larger significance, the New York Times pulled a quick double-pivot:
Immigration experts say it is impossible to know precisely how widespread “maternity tourism” is. Businesses in China, Mexico and South Korea advertise packages that arrange for doctors, insurance and postpartum care. And the Marmara, a Turkish-owned hotel on the Upper East Side in New York City, has advertised monthlong “baby stays” that come with a stroller.
For the most part, though, the practice has involved individuals. The discovery of the large-scale facility here in the San Gabriel foothills raises questions about whether it was a rare phenomenon or an indication that maternity tourism is entering a new, more institutionalized phase with more hospital-like facilities operating quietly around the country.
(Wait, what was that about the Turkish hotel again?) But so there are such businesses, but they are the exception, unless they aren’t. The people who want to repeal the Fourteenth Amendment probably aren’t mollified by that, or by the fact that 99.83 percent of all babies born in this country are not born to foreign residents. Nor the fact that the Chinese women weren’t illegal immigrants, but visitors on valid tourist visas.
At bottom, though, this story should soothe the patriotic soul. The real news here is that some number of enterprising and wealthy Chinese people still think it’s worth “tens of thousands of dollars” to get United States citizenship for their children. So they, at least, don’t foresee America collapsing under the strain of excess immigration (or Chinese debt).