US immigration agency nominee defends birth tourism

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US President Joe Biden’s pick to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is seemingly in support of birth tourism, according to a report published by the Center for Immigration Studies, which claims to be pro-immigrant, but supports lower immigration to the US.


Ur Jaddou, who was nominated by Biden to become USCIS director, is an advocate of unlimited immigration and a staunch critic of former US President, Donald Trump. According to the Center for Immigration Studies report, a recent analysis of written responses submitted by Jaddou to Questions for the Record (QFR), seem to show her support for birth tourism.

Considered highly controversial by many, birth tourism is the practice of female immigrants entering America, typically on a US tourist visa, to give birth so that their child(ren) gain US citizenship status. 


US Constitution

Under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, almost every baby born in the United States is entitled to American citizenship. The children of immigrants considered to be US citizens allows them to sponsor relatives for US green cards at a later date.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the number of birth tourists arriving in the US every year is between 20,000 and 26,000.

The Trump administration attempted to eradicate birth tourism when issuing a final rule in January 2020 that revised the standard by which temporary US tourist visas were granted.

The rule said: “Travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B non-immigrant visa.”

“Consequently, a consular officer shall deny a B non-immigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose,” the rule added.


Confirmation hearing

During a recent confirmation hearing, Republican Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, raised the issue of birth tourism. 

Meanwhile, in a QFR, Ranking Member Grassley – the Republican representative for Iowa – stated that Jaddou’s response to Cruz’s raising of the birth tourism issue was an attempt to sidestep the real issue – being whether birth tourism is an ‘appropriate B visa activity’.

In her QFR response, Jaddou defended the rights of pregnant women to travel to the US on a B visa ‘if like all applicants for B visas they met certain criteria and passed a consular interview’.

During the hearing, Jaddou said: “The Department of State and Customs and Border Protection are primarily tasked with processing US visas and determining whether to admit an alien at the border or port of entry.”

When the USCIS director nominee was given the hypothetical situation of a female immigrant admitting to a consular officer that it was her intent to travel to the US to give birth, if that stated purpose of travel is impermissible, Jaddou said: “Please refer to my previous comment on birth tourism.”

The Center for Immigration Studies acknowledged that Jaddou was correct about USCIS not have primary jurisdiction on the US immigration issues directly implicated by birth tourism. 

However, the Center did state that her views on the issue are relevant to her potential role as USCIS director because of the ‘downstream  US immigration benefits that attach to a child born in the US to an alien’.


Supportive of birth tourism

The Center for Immigration Studies report states: “Jaddou’s restating of the same generic, non-response to multiple senators implies that she supports the practice of birth tourism, or at minimum does not find the practice to be problematic or in violation of the purpose of B non-immigrant status.” can help with US employment-based visas

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