Restricting Pregnant Immigrants: ‘People Will Die Because of This’

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The Trump administration quietly announced on Wednesday new visa restrictions for pregnant women in an effort to stop what President Trump has deemed “birth tourism,” the term for a woman entering the United States solely to give birth so the child can have American citizenship, NBC News reports. 

President Trump has been fighting to limit both legal and illegal immigration since he took office in 2017. Trump has also railed against birthright citizenship and threatened to end it. However, opponents of Trump’s stance have pointed out that these are laws “enshrined in the Constitution,” NBC News and Fox News reports

Trump’s new tactic is trying to stop women who might give birth in the United States from entering in the first place on a tourist visa, Vox News suggests. 

In a cable notice sent on Wednesday afternoon to all U.S. embassies and consular officers around the world marked “sensitive but unclassified,” the Trump administration instructed that pregnant women should be denied when applying for B visas, “which are offered to short-term visitors, including tourists, business travelers, and people seeking urgent medical care.” Vox News details. 

The Associated Press reports that embassies and consular officers aren’t legally allowed to ask a woman outright if she is pregnant. But if they determine she is pregnant, they would have the right to decline a visa.

“If you have reason to believe the applicant will give birth during their stay in the United States, you are required to presume that giving birth for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship is the applicant’s primary purpose of travel,” the notice, obtained by Vox News, outlines. 

One State Department official who agreed to speak with Vox News on the condition of anonymity said that pregnant women applying for these visas “may not receive the kind of care they need in their home country or have the money to get better care in the U.S.” 

The unnamed State Department official told Vox News, “People will die because of this.”

The only loophole for granting a B visa is if the applicant can prove that she is coming to America for pre-arranged specialized medical treatment, and that she has the money to pay for it, NBC News reports. 

But, as Vox News reports, that still might not be enough. 

If an applicant can’t show she has the necessary medical funds—a judgment ultimately made by consular officers, who are not experts in the cost of health care”—she may have her application denied, Vox News outlined. 

There is currently no data on how many women travel to America specifically to give birth. However, The Center for Immigration Studies, a non-partisan and non-profit research organization that advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimated that “in 2012, about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the U.S., then left the country,” NBC News cited. 

This summary was prepared by TCR staff writer Andrea Cipriano.

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