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Surrogate Mothers Offer Wealthy Chinese a U.S. Foothold

Elected Officials Who...

  • Sponsored the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013 (H.R.140)
    Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013, 5:38 PM EDT
Total 20 Sponsors
  • (AL) Brooks
  • (AZ) Franks
  • (AZ) Schweikert
  • (FL) Miller
  • (FL) Nugent
  • (GA) Gingrey
  • (GA) Westmoreland
  • (GA) Woodall
  • (IA) King 
  • (MI) Bentivolio
  • (MS) Nunnelee
  • (NC) Foxx
  • (NC) Jones
  • (PA) Barletta
  • (TN) Black
  • (TN) Roe
  • (TX) Conaway
  • (TX) Culberson
  • (TX) Gohmert
  • (TX) Marchant

Companies are springing up in China and the United States that enable the Chinese elite to hire American women to serve as surrogate mothers, Reuters news agency reports. The children born to surrogate mothers are eligible for US citizenship and will later be able to sponsor their Chinese parents for Legal Permanent Residency.

The fees involved ostensibly limit surrogacy to the wealthy citizens of China or any nation. The surrogate mother is normally paid a minimum of $22,000. U.S.-based surrogacy companies charge at least $30,000 for coordinating matters, although fees can be higher if prenatal care and delivery costs are included. Chinese-based companies charge higher fees, usually between $120,000 and $200,000. As one Shanghai-based agent said, "if you add in plane tickets and other expenses, for only $300,000, you get two children and the entire family can emigrate to the U.S."  

There are no data on the number of Chinese who use U.S. surrogates, but surrogate companies in both countries say requests have increased significantly over the last two years. John Weltman, the president of Boston-based Circle Surrogacy, said, "I would be surprised if you called me back in four months and (the) number hadn't doubled. That's the level of interest we've seen this year from China and the very serious conversation we've had with people who I think will be joining us in the next three or four months."

A number of U.S.-based surrogacy companies now host Chinese-language websites to facilitate business. One U.S.-based company says that around 60% of their 140 clients are from abroad. That company will soon open a branch in California to better serve Asian clients and may start one in Shanghai as well.

Business is flourishing for Chinese-based companies, too. One Shanghai businessman used an American surrogate mother to have his first child in 2010. The man set up his own surrogacy agency in 2012 after repeated requests for help from his friends. At least one Chinese company markets surrogacy as a less expensive alternative to the U.S. EB-5 visa, which offers Legal Permanent Residency in the U.S. for a $500,000 minimum investment in a job-creating U.S. business.

Surrogacy adds a new twist on the birthright citizenship loophole under the 14th Amendment. Maternity hotels had become a popular option for expectant Chinese mothers with the means to travel to the U.S. but some localities cracked down on the practice. Still, giving birth in America became so commonplace that it was the subject of a romantic comedy movie released in China this year called "Finding Mr Right."

Statistics show that the number of Chinese visitors to the United States nearly doubled in recent years, from 1 million in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2012.

Read more here.


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In the News

Births by U.S. visitors: A real issue?

Quoted - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rosemary Jenks, director for government relations for NumbersUSA, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates for lower immigration, said birth tourism, though "not overwhelming," leads to more immigration down the road. As U.S. citizens, the children of birth tourists, upon turning 21, can sponsor their parents to come to the U.S., she said.

"The problem is chain migration," she said. "That one person turns into a whole bunch more."

By Daniel González -- Arizona Republic


Does the Constitution really say that children of illegal immigrants are automatic citizens?

Quoted - Thursday, January 27, 2011

Roy Beck, executive director of the immigration-restriction group NumbersUSA, also stresses the importance of changing birthright citizenship in the effort to halt or slow illegal immigration. “It is an incentive,” he says. “It’s a moderate incentive for people to come here illegally, and it’s a major incentive for illegal aliens not to go home.”

By Katrina Trinko -- National Review


A method to Lindsey Graham's birthright citizenship madness?

Quoted - Friday, August 27, 2010

The problem with this argument is that Graham's push for 14th Amendment repeal has extremely little credibility -- even among conservative advocates for tighter immigration restrictions. As Dave Weigel reported, some of the biggest anti-immigration groups were dismissive of Graham's gambit, dismissing it as pure posturing, given how utterly difficult it is to amend the constitution. "I don't know anyone who thinks we could try the amendment first and win," Roy Beck, president of restrictionist group NumbersUSA, told Weigel shortly after Graham revived the issue. In other words, even if Graham were to propose birthright citizenship reform as part of a bigger immigration overhaul, few would see it as a legitimate bargaining chip.

By Suzy Khimm -- Washington Post


Birthright and Wrong

Quoted - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

None of this, say conservatives, will actually happen. The will to amend the Constitution is not there. Despite what Graham says, amending the Constitution is not easier than passing legislation and waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on it. "I don't know anyone who thinks we could try the amendment first and win," said Roy Beck, president of the restrictionist group NumbersUSA. Krikorian compared the Graham stratagem to the mostly forgotten aspect of 1996 welfare reform that outlawed benefits for recent legal immigrants. That, he said, was a bone tossed to restrictionists that distracted them from the brief political opening they had to cut down on legal immigration quotas.



GOP push to revise 14th Amendment not gaining steam

Quoted - Sunday, August 8, 2010

"My organization would say there should be a change on the horizon, but not in the way Lindsey Graham is talking about it," said Rosemary Jenks, director of governmental relations for the nonprofit NumbersUSA, the leading group opposed to birthright citizenship. "I do think it is political. . . . What we need is a serious discussion of the actual issues, not a lot of political ploys. "

By Sandhya Somashekhar -- Washington Post


Citizenship From Birth Is Challenged on the Right

Quoted - Friday, August 6, 2010

“If you are an illegal immigrant, we clearly have not given you permission to reside here,” said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for NumbersUSA, a group that favors decreased immigration. “You are still subject to the jurisdiction of your own country.”

By Julia Preston -- New York Times


GOP leaders want to close birthright loophole

Quoted - Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations at Numbers USA, contends, "That is a policy that needs to be changed."

"It's an incorrect interpretation of the 14th Amendment, and it needs to be changed desperately," she reiterates. "The problem is it's not going to happen with the Democrats controlling the House and the Senate, so November 2 is a big, big moment for this country in terms of immigration policy."

By Chad Groening - OneNewsNow


'Anchor Babies' New Center of Immigration Debate

Quoted - Monday, June 14, 2010

Business Week opened the issue up for debate. Roy Beck of NumbersUSA suggested that passage of the bill would stop population overgrowth.

"Each of these babies becomes an anchor who retards deportation of unlawfully present parents – and who eventually will be an anchor for entire families and villages as chain migration leads to the immigration of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins," he wrote.

"Birthright citizenship is an antiquated practice that has been abandoned by nearly all wealthy nations and emerging nations (recently India and Indonesia) and by the majority of poor nations."



Senate candidates urge end to automatic citizenship

Quoted - Friday, May 21, 2010

Supporters of HR 1868 include NumbersUSA, a group founded by Roy Beck to slow the flow of immigrants into the country. Utah's 3rd District Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, also supports the measure.

By Cathy McKitrick -- The Salt Lake Tribune


Ga. congressman wants to end automatic citizenship

Quoted - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that favors restricting immigration, said the policy of granting automatic citizenship to people born here is "out of sync with the modern world." He and Deal said that the U.S. is one of the few wealthy industrialized nations that still allows birthright citizenship.

Deal, who has submitted his bill to the House Judiciary Committee, said he's not optimistic about it becoming law this year unless it is tacked onto another bill.

By Kate Brumback -- Associated Press


Illegal immigration: Can states win fight against 'birthright citizenship'?

In the News - Friday, January 7, 2011

Most legal experts agree that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees citizenship to any person born in the US, regardless of parentage. But these lawmakers seek to follow in the steps of the Arizona immigration law, which ignited a national conversation on illegal immigration even though it could be declared unconstitutional by the courts. Similarly, the lawmakers hope to create a public groundswell against "birthright citizenship," forcing Congress to act.

By Daniel B. Wood -- Christian Science Monitor


L.A. County welfare to children of illegal immigrants grows

In the News - Sunday, September 5, 2010

Welfare payments to children of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles County increased in July to $52 million, prompting renewed calls from one county supervisor to rein in public benefits to such families.

The payments, made to illegal immigrants for their U.S. citizen children, included $30 million in food stamps and $22 million from the CalWorks welfare program, according to county figures released Friday by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

By Teresa Watanabe -- Los Angeles Times


Birthright of a Nation

In the News - Friday, August 13, 2010

DESPITE persistent calls for comprehensive immigration reform, the hot debate today is about an old issue: birthright citizenship.

The citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, provides that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States...” This language has traditionally been interpreted to give automatic citizenship to anyone born on American soil, even to the children of illegal immigrants.

Congress plans to hold hearings this fall on a constitutional amendment to change that language, something even moderate Republican senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham support. With a new study showing that undocumented mothers account for a disproportionate number of births, even some Democrats might find it hard to stand opposed to altering the citizenship clause.

By Peter H. Schuck -- New York Times Op-ed


An argument to be made about immigrant babies and citizenship

In the News - Monday, April 5, 2010

A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.

To end the practice of "birthright citizenship," all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment's first sentence: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.

By George Will -- Washington Post


A birthright the U.S. can't afford

In the News - Monday, July 20, 2009

In his July 15 column "Immigration debacle," Tim Rutten uses Americans' natural reluctance to deport illegal immigrant parents of U.S.-born children as a weapon to attack efforts at immigration enforcement. Nothing new there. In his dissent to the majority ruling in United States vs. Wong Kim Ark -- the 1898 Supreme Court decision affirming that birth in the United States automatically confers citizenship -- Chief Justice Melville Fuller foresaw how this "birthright" would hinder enforcement of immigration law:

"[C]an the persons expelled be subjected to 'cruel and unusual punishments' in the process of expulsion, as would be the case if children born to them in this country were separated from them on their departure, because citizens of the United States?"

By Mitchell Young -- Los Angeles Times


Most U.S. Hispanic Kids Have Immigrant Parents

In the News - Friday, May 29, 2009

A majority of Hispanic children are now U.S.-born children of immigrants, primarily Mexicans who came to this country in an immigration wave that began about 1980, according to a report released yesterday.

The analysis of census data by the nonpartisan, Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center charts a substantial demographic shift among the nation's 16 million Hispanic children, who constitute one of the fastest growing child populations in the United States and account for more than one of five U.S. children. As recently as 1980, nearly six of 10 Latino children were in the third generation or higher, meaning that their parents, and often their grandparents and great-grandparents, were native-born U.S. citizens. Only three of 10 were in the second generation -- born in the United States to parents who immigrated.

By N.C. Aizenman -- Washington Post


Congressional Testimony

Jordan Commission -- Executive Summary on Legal Immigration

Congressional Testimony - Friday, September 1, 1995

U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, 1995

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