Trump Administration Takes Aim at Pregnant Foreign Travelers

Pregnant Woman

The Trump administration unveiled a new rule that gives the government more power to deny certain visas to women if officials have “reason to believe” they intend to travel to the United States for the primary purpose of giving birth, therefore obtaining United States citizenship for the child.

The practice of traveling to the United States to give birth is fundamentally legal. However, the State Department "does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child, by giving birth in the United States — an activity commonly referred to as 'birth tourism' — is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature," according to the new rule, which goes into effect Friday.

President Trump has railed against what he called "anchor babies" and birthright citizenship, the guarantee under the Constitution that anyone born in the United States is considered a citizen. He has threatened to end the practice, but scholars and members of his administration have said it's not so easy to do.

Regulating tourist visas for pregnant women is one way to get at the issue, but it raises privacy concerns about how officers would determine whether a woman is pregnant and whether a woman could get turned away by border officers who suspect she may be pregnant just by looking at her.

Consular officers do not have the right to ask during visa interviews whether a woman is pregnant or intends to become so. But they would still have to determine whether a visa applicant would be coming to the U.S. primarily to give birth.

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