The latest horrific development in the Trump administration’s never-ending attacks on immigrants and immigration is a new rule which the administration claims is an attempt to stop “birth tourism.” Under this new rule, which goes into effect on Friday, visa officers are given more power to prevent pregnant women from visiting the United States if the officers believe the women are traveling to the U.S. for the “primary purpose” of giving birth and obtaining citizenship for their children.
While this new rule may not be shocking, considering the policies that the Trump administration has already implemented surrounding immigration, that doesn’t make it any less awful. According to the New York Times:
Consular officers were already unlikely to grant visa to women who they believed were traveling to the United States solely to give birth. But with the new rule, the White House seems to be signaling to officers abroad that those close to delivering a child would be added to a growing list of immigrants unwelcome in the United States, a list that includes the poor, most refugees and asylum-seeking migrants.
“Birth tourism,” while slightly different from the idea of “anchor babies,” latches onto the same transparently racist and xenophobic rhetoric that feeds the conservative anti-immigration fervor. And, as usual, the Trump administration makes no attempts to hide the nationalist zeal behind the implementation of this rule.
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the new rule seeks to stop those who seek “automatic and permanent American citizenship for their children by giving birth on American soil.”
“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,” Ms. Grisham said. “The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”
Ah yes, there we go. It’s all for the sake of protecting the American taxpayer. Capping the number of refugees who can come seek asylum in the United States? Detaining migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border under appalling conditions? Separating these children from their parents? A laundry list of awful, traumatic, unspeakable acts to prevent immigrants from coming to the United States—all justified by the Trump Administration under the banner of defending the American taxpayer.
Unsurprisingly, when it came to producing the data on “birth tourism” which made it so urgently necessary to implement this new rule, the administration was very vague, estimating that “thousands of children” are birthed in the U.S. each year by non-citizens.
It is not clear whether such “birth tourism” is a significant phenomenon or that “anchor babies” do lead to substantial immigration, but many conservatives believe both issues are real and serious. The Trump administration has repeatedly moved to allay conservative immigration concerns, which President Trump has often stoked.
It seems that no one has been able to find any real data concerning how common or real “birth tourism” actually is... or how much money it actually costs taxpayers. The Trump administration is once again blatantly playing upon the racist and xenophobic fears of many Americans to justify the establishment of rules and policies that feed the violent, anti-immigrant rhetoric the President himself constantly spouts.