California (The Gaslamp Post) – A grass-roots movement consisting of around 70 citizens of the Chino Hills area has assembled to protest a house in their neighborhood, which is being used illegally for birth tourism. Residents had speculated about the house being used as a maternity hotel, after an increase in traffic and the presence of pregnant Chinese nationals had caught their attention.
Birth tourism is a new trend among foreign nationals, where a pregnant woman comes to the United States with the intention of giving birth on American soil, and then returns to her native land with the baby. The child then has dual citizenship and can return as a U.S. citizen after the age of 21, able to bring foreign family members along with them; thereby being eligible for American entitlements.
Can you say “anchor babies”?
City officials said that the house had caught their attention since September of this year, after 2000 gallon of sewage coming from the home was noticed in the storm sewer and flood control channel. Code enforcement officers who went to the residence noted individual, newly constructed rooms, with new electrical service.
“At first, we thought drugs, prostitution or human trafficking,” said Linda Spencer, a neighbor. “Then, we contacted the Chino Hills Sheriff’s Department and they told us they would check into it then they showed us pictures and I thought this is a residential neighborhood and they’re running a commercial hotel and it needs to be shut down.”
According to Chino Hills mayor Art Bennett, his officers had also gone to the home, but to investigate a septic tank issue and some new construction. It was at this time that they discovered the purpose of the home.
“They found out upon further investigation that they were renting those rooms out as motel rooms to bring in Chinese expectant mothers to the United States and these people are paying substantial fees to stay in that residence until they have their child,” said Bennett.
“This home is not meant to be a hotel by any means, plus there is a septic tank overflow and sewer spillage,” said Bennett. “This is a single family residential home that is being operated as a hotel and it isn’t zoned for that and based on that it needs to be shut down.”
“Chino Hills is a nice family oriented town. We don’t want a maternal hotel that is a business in a residential area,” said Rossana Mitchell, one of the group’s organizers.
“And there’s the moral issue,” said Mitchell, a 22-year resident of the city. “My father came to this country from Peru and left us all (eight children) until he earned enough money to get us visas to come here legally, said Mitchell, who became a U.S. citizen at age 17.
“All of us (children) worked in the system and have done really well. There are three doctors among the siblings, said Mitchell, who is a family law attorney in Chino Hills.
The residents are upset that local officials are only concerned with the code violations and not the actual birth tourism issue at hand. Part of that issue is the increased traffic of vans which appear now more often, which shuttle the pregnant women off to various destinations throughout the area.
“These woman are coming to the United States under false pretenses…They are finding out about this through a website that instructs them on how to come legally, but that is under false pretenses,” said Kelly Good, one of the protesters and a 20-year resident of Chino Hills.
“They are pregnant and their goal is to have a baby here in the United States so that the child can be a United States citizen,” Good said.
Another neighbor near the house said that sewage from their septic tank had leaked and run down to her property. The neighbor, Michele Hawthorne said that it has more than likely been tracked into her home by the time she realized what it was.
Repeated calls to the home have either resulted in the person answering to just simply hang up, and in one instance the English speaking person who had answered stated that they were only the translator. “I am just a translator. I am not the owner,” said listed contact person Sabrina Chen. “I cannot say anything about the property owner. He is out of town.”