US President Donald Trump opened a new front in his battle against immigration on Thursday, barring the issuing of visas to pregnant women seeking to enter the United States for so-called “birth tourism”.
In announcing the move, which takes effect on Friday, the White House said foreigners were using the visas “to secure automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil”.
“The integrity of American citizenship must be protected,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Temporary B-1 and B-2 visitor visas would no longer be issued to “aliens seeking to enter the United States for ‘birth tourism’,” the White House said.
Calling the practice “a glaring immigration loophole”, it argued that the crackdown on “birth tourism” was for public safety and national security as well as to maintain the “integrity of our 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.
“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,” the White House said.
“It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism,” it said.
The US constitution guarantees automatic American citizenship to anyone born on US soil.
Trump has made restricting illegal immigration a top priority of his administration, and has threatened in the past to abolish birth right citizenship.