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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

What do you think about the State Department’s birth tourism restrictions?


[one_third]Liberal – Carmel Rafalowsky

The U.S. State Department stated that, “birth tourism poses risks to national security,” on a final ruling that was unveiled on Jan. 23. The document went on to claim that birth tourism, the practice of traveling to another country for the sole purpose of giving birth there, so the child becomes a birthright citizen of the destination country, has become an industry that is “rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.”  

While the average citizen has no context or data so as to assert whether birth tourism does in fact pose a threat to national security—though really, how could a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy be that dangerous—the department’s claim regarding criminal activity and international scheming strikes me as farfetched, ludicrous and frankly racialized. 

The new ruling does not affect countries in the US’ Visa Waiver Program, which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security and allows citizens from 39 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Countries in the program include the likes of Australia, France, Italy, Greece, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Slovenia and England.  

European countries and territories make up 30 out of the 39 countries on the VWP list; a whopping 76.9 percent. East Asian countries account for three or 7.7 percent; Pacific countries four or 10.3 percent; and South America one out of 39 or 2.6 percent, with Chile as the sole South American country on the list.  

 While the majority of these countries are perhaps more ‘westernized’ or similar to the U.S. in their political and social structure, I doubt that makes them less likely to breed criminals as well. Or does this ruling suggest that citizens from the select countries on this list are incapable of committing crime? 

In a statement after the ruling was published, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the new rule would “defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.” To this end, the new rule forces travelers to prove they can pay for all costs of their medical care in the US.  

I can understand people’s frustration and belief that birth tourism is a drain on U.S. resources and our healthcare system, and that ultimately US taxpayers bear the burden of these births. I may not fully agree without the hard data to prove it, but this argument makes sense, and I would be irked if it were in fact true. Paying taxes can be annoying even if you acknowledge that they are necessary and inherently good, since they pay for public services and establishments. Living in New Jersey, I can especially share this pain—taxes add up. 

That said, I cannot stand behind the racial overtones of this document. The statements of “criminal activity” and “international schemes” imply something more and the fact that citizens from VWP countries are exempt gets under my skin. If the new ruling is truly about national security, then citizens of every country should have to comply. Any person from any country can be dangerous or pose a threat—why exempt these (largely European) countries? Why not amend the whole program entirely? It’s not fair, it doesn’t add up, and it strikes me as a last-ditch grab for attention and relevancy on President Trump’s part to excite the Republican party. 

[one_third]IndependentDaniil Ivanov

In a new rule, the U.S. State Department has established 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… The Department does not believe that visiting the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child…is a legitimate activity for pleasure or of a recreational nature.” 

Though I sympathize with these parents who are trying to get the best for their children, I agree with the State Department that birth tourism goes against the laws of the country and is a blatant exploit of the Constitution. The well-being of these children is not the responsibility of the U.S. government. 

Natural born citizenship is intended to create a national identity and to ensure the prosperity of our nation—not to act as our political asylum nor refugee system. If foreigners want to have a chance at the American Dream, there are legal channels for this, though the process is definitely slower and less efficient than it should be. 

Additionally, the rule states that immigrants coming to the U.S. for the purpose of a medical treatment must first show that they are able to afford the procedure along with the stay surrounding it.  

This makes perfect sense as other countries have their own taxes and legislation and safety nets in order to provide for their people. The U.S. has laws put in place that allow people to be medically treated regardless of their ability to pay, and such laws should still apply to foreigners visiting the country who happen to fall ill in the same way that another country’s medical system would take care of an American abroad. However, such generosity and benevolence only works when it is not abused, thus such protections should be made by the State Department. 

If foreign nationals want to work in the U.S. there are channels to do so and they should. If they want medical treatment in America, they should be allowed to do so if they can afford it. But, generosity given through our Constitution and laws will only last if it is not abused. 

[one_third]ConservativeMark Pothen

In recent weeks, the State Department announced that it plans to deny visas to pregnant women that are believed to be coming here with the sole intent of having their child on American soil. The Center for Immigration Studies has conducted studies that put the number of children born in the United States as a result of so-called birth tourism at 33,000. This is in addition to “Some 39,000 other foreigner women here on temporary student or guest-worker visas [that] also give birth” and nearly 300,000 births that are the result of illegal immigrants.  

This was a very good move by the State Department given that this system is simply not sustainable. The United States is a sovereign nation and must know how many people are coming into the country and being born here.  

This brings up questions about the 14th Amendment that allows for the idea of “birthright citizenship” by saying “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”  

This issue of birth tourism actually supports the premise held by a contingent of legal scholars that argue that because the illegal immigrants never went through the governmentally legal process to enter the United States, they are not under the jurisdiction of the United States government.  

This is not to be unsympathetic to individuals who are fleeing from their respective nations for a better life, but the truth is that with the presence of the welfare state established in the United States in 1964, we have to be more stringent with regards to who is allowed in given that government benefits act as an incentivize to illegally come to the United States.  

The reality is that deterrents have to be established in order to ensure that fewer people illegally enter the United States, which is why President Trump’s policy change that has asylum seekers wait in Mexico for adjudication has led to a 90% decrease in border crossing to Arizona.  

It simply seems that individuals on the political left don’t want to have a conversation about this issue acknowledging the realities on the ground, so they would much rather attribute every deterrent to racism without an iota of evidence.  

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