"Maternity hotels" are becoming popular in suburbs outside of Los Angeles. The facilities cater to the "birth tourism" industry, which guarantees citizenship to children born in the US.
Pregnant women, primarily from Asian countries, are paying nearly $20,000 to give birth in "maternity hotels." The women travel to the US on tourists visas, give birth, and leave with babies that are US citizens. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, women coming to the US to give birth are not denied entry by US Customs and Border Patrol officers.
By giving birth in the US, Chinese women can avoid penalties imposed by China's "one-child" policy. Additionally, many women who have children in the US hope to qualify for permanent residence. When the children reach age 21, they can apply for their parents to become permanent residents of the US.
"Maternity Hotel" facilities have been source of controversy for some time. Several have been shut down for violating zoning regulations. Most recently a facility in Chino Hills is facing legal action after authorities discovered that there were at least 20 individuals staying in one home. The home was divided into 17 separate "apartments," which was in violation of zoning laws.
To prevent this, many are now operating in a hotel setting rather than single-family homes. One agency, USA Baby Care, offers their clients luxury hotel rooms or villas. In addition to housing packages, these hotels include numerous other services.
All available packages offer meals, shopping, maid services, free study in the United States, free child care, legal immigration advice, admission into US public schools, and all citizenship documentation for the child.
Although the process may be unusual, it is not illegal. Authorities in Los Angeles cannot prevent the operation of "maternity hotels" or the "birth tourism" industry in general. Authorities are currently working with Zoning and Health Department officials to ensure that the facilities continue to operate in accordance with state and city laws.
[Image via deviantArt]