It’s not new, but ‘birth tourism’ is a growing CNMI industry

Saipan— Birth tourism is a hot issue once again after the Federal Bureau of Investigation was tipped off by a local doctor to an alleged large scale operation on the island.

Birth tourism has long been an underground industry in the CNMI, with pregnant Chinese women flocking to Saipan to give birth that automatically provides U.S. citizenship to their new-born child. Most of these women leave the CNMI after childbirth and receipt of their baby’s U.S. passport.

Early in the morning or late in the afternoon, groups of pregnant Chinese women can be seen walking along the Beach Road Pathway to exercise their legs since this is one of the prenatal activities that helps in having an easier childbirth.

It has allegedly become a lucrative business in China where travel agencies were reportedly even offering tour packages to Saipan. From the airport, pregnant Chinese women are picked up and housed in an apartment already reserved for them. During their stay on Saipan, they will be helped by caretakers who cook their meals, clean their rooms and wash their clothes. These caretakers, usually employed by the party who picks up them up at the airport, are reportedly paid $1,000 a month.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, just being on the verge of giving birth is not a basis for denying entry to any state or territory since no U.S. immigration laws or regulations bar this. Chinese tourists enjoy a visa waiver under U.S. immigration but are allowed to stay in any U.S. state or territory for only 45 days.

“Coming to the U.S. in order to give birth does not, in and of itself, render an individual inadmissible,” said U.S. CBP San Francisco Field Office program manager and public affairs liaison Frank Falcon. “There is no inadmissibility ground within the U.S. immigration law that prohibits the birth of a child in the U.S.”

Falcon added that CBP officers determine the admissibility of a traveler or any indivi