Taking advantage of the 14th Amendment

Posted on March 29, 2011

They come as “tourists”, they give birth here,  and then they go back to their home country with their new American citizen in tow.  It isn’t illegal, but foreigners planning to give birth here so their child will be granted U.S. citizenship status  smacks of taking advantage of the system in a way it was never intended.

SAN GABRIEL – City officials uncovered a makeshift maternity ward with 10 newborns and about 12 Chinese nationals crammed into an illegally converted townhouse, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.

Dwight Chang, of Arcadia, who owns the house in the 1300 block of South Palm Avenue, had been warned twice before for operating a business that primarily caters to Asian “maternity tourists,” officials said.

“I’ve never seen anything as big as this,” San Gabriel code enforcement officer Jorge Arellano said.

A city code enforcement team, accompanied by building inspectors and San Gabriel police officers shut down the operation March 8, and issued a citation to Chang, documents indicate.

When officers arrived they found babies being cared for in what used to be a kitchen, Arellano said.

All of the infants were checked by county agencies and determined to be healthy, Arellano said.

Arellano speculated the babies were born at several area hospitals.


The converted row of five townhomes played a role in the maternity tourism trade which caters to wealthy Taiwanese, Chinese and Koreans, Arellano  said. Throughout the past decade similar setups have been uncovered in Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, New York and Quebec, according to officials and published reports.

While there are no specific numbers, this latest discover may signal the “maternity tourist” trade is kicking it up a notch:

“What this could suggest is … they’re taking it to the next step,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates stricter limits on immigration. “Whoever is organizing this type of operation is buying or leasing a home to become a clearinghouse. That’s a serious problem.”


Krikorian noted that some travel agencies abroad are known to arrange such trips for individuals but not to specialized clinics such as the one in San Gabriel.

The reason these moms make the trek with the goal of childbirth here? In essence, the child’s U.S. citizenship is an insurance policy.  It will guarantee that if ever/whenever the child returns to the states, he or she will have all the same rights as privileges as any other American citizen who’s lived here their entire lives.  They’ll not only be eligible to vote, but will also be eligible for  social programs if needed.  This is the case even if they’ve never lived here previously for any stretch of time or had any ties to the country before their arrival.

Somehow, I can’t belive this is really what is intended by the 14th Amendment.

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