Homeland Security agents this week raided apartment complexes that double as “maternity hotels” for Chinese women in Southern California.
It was part of a major sting that targeted s0-called “birth tourism” in Los Angeles, San Bernadino, and Orange counties on Tuesday, according to NBC News, which was on the scene for one of the raids.
Among the 20 properties raided was the high-end Carlyle building in Irvine where pregnant women and new moms were reportedly paying up to $80,000 to make sure their babies were born as American citizens.
One of the women told NBC News that she came to the U.S. to give birth “for the education of the next generation.”
Agents did not arrest any of the mothers. Police treated the moms as material witnesses and had first-responders on standby in case any of them went into labor.
What is birth tourism?
The controversial practice of “birth tourism” is when a pregnant woman travels to the U.S. with the purpose of giving birth here. Any child born on U.S. soil automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. The child is often called an “anchor baby.”
Later, when they turn 21, the children can sponsor their parents for a visa.
“It’s not necessarily illegal to come here to have the baby, but if you lie about your reasons for coming here, that’s visa fraud,” Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Los Angeles, told NBC News.
How do they do it?
The suspects who ran the Carlyle “maternity hotel” are Chao Chen and Dong Li, according to NBC News.
They reportedly used a website to attract clients. The site promoted the benefits of having a child with U.S. citizenship, including 13 years of free education, less pollution, low-cost financial aid for college, and a path for the family to citizenship, NBC News reported.
Clients reportedly paid the organizers $40,000 to $80,000 for housing and medical expenses.
Some of the pregnant and new moms were housed in two-bedroom apartments at the Carlyle, the outlet reported. The apartments, which run about $3,000 per month, provide clients with private balconies, a resort-style pool, and other amenities.
Handlers reportedly took the women to their medical appointments and various county hospitals for delivery.
The women didn’t pay the full price of approximately $25,000 for their medical services. Most got reduced rates from nothing to $4,000, according to NBC News.
More than 400 babies born at one hospital were linked to the scheme, investigators told NBC News.
The investigation also uncovered possible tax evasion. The suspects could face charges of high-level fraud and tax evasion.
How long have the feds been investigating the Carlyle?
Irvine Police received an anonymous tip in June 2014, NBC News reported. The police turned it over to Homeland Security. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services received a separate, but similar tip.
via TheBlaze.com – Stories
Enjoy this article? Read the full version at the authors website: http://www.theblaze.com