ADDS WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT
By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Donald Trump administration issued Thursday a new visa rule aimed at restricting what it calls "birth tourism" on American soil.
The new rule gives consular officers the authority to deny visa to pregnant women who they believe are traveling to the U.S. to give birth thus giving the child American citizenship.
"This rule establishes that travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa," according to a document published in Federal Register.
"Consequently, a consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who(m) he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose," it reads.
According to the State Department, it is not a "legitimate activity" to visit the U.S. for the purpose of obtaining American citizenship for a child.
"The final rule addresses concerns about the attendant risks of this activity to national security and law enforcement, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry, as reflected in federal prosecutions of individuals and entities
involved in that industry," said the document.
- 'Immigration loophole'
The White House defended the rule change that will take effect Friday as necessary to enhance safety, national security and integrity of the U.S. immigration system.
"The birth tourism industry threatens to overburden valuable hospital resources and is rife with criminal activity, as reflected in Federal prosecutions," it said in a statement.
"Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice," read the statement.
The White House said the move will protect American "taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism."
Axios news website was first to report that the administration planned to introduce a new rule to crack down on "birth tourism," citing three officials from the administration.
A State Department official told Axios that the move will address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with "birth tourism" or "birth tourism industry".
In October 2018, Trump said he planned to end the practice of granting citizenship to children born in the U.S. to non-citizens.
"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States ... with all of those benefits," Trump said at the time, adding that "It's ridiculous. And it has to end."
Trump's assertion that the U.S. is the only country to grant birthright citizenship is inaccurate. More than 30 countries in the Western Hemisphere alone grant automatic citizenship to anyone born in their jurisdictions, according to a 2012 study published in the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
Birthright citizenship has its foundation in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, ratified in 1868, and was meant to stymie efforts to deny citizenship to former slaves. Ending it would likely require a constitutional amendment, according to many legal scholars.