Federal agents have recently arrested three people operating “birth tourism” outfits which allegedly brought hundreds of pregnant women from China to the United States.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, a total of 19 people linked to the scheme were charged on Thursday, but over 13 of them are believed to have returned to China.
The firms, which operated across Southern California, reportedly charged Chinese clients tens of thousands of dollars to help them give birth in the U.S. Those charged consisted of both the clients and operators of the “birthing house” schemes that were dismantled in March 2015 upon the execution of 35 search warrants by federal agents involved in the undercover operations, the New York Times reports.
Among those arrested include 41-year-old businessman Dongyuan Li, whose establishment called “You Win USA” assisted pregnant Chinese women in getting them to deliver babies in America. Under the scheme, the babies were provided the benefits of American citizenship for being born in the U.S.
Li reportedly earned millions in two years by charging each expectant mother between $40,000 and $80,000 to come to California, stay in an upscale apartment and eventually give birth. Jing Dong, 42, and Michael Wei Yueh Liu, 53, operators of a similar outfit called “USA Happy Baby,” were also arrested.
Liu’s attorney Derek Tung claimed that his client merely worked as a sort of subcontractor to provide housing to his clients and had nothing to do with getting women visas from China. “My client is merely the provider. The people who are in China are the ones in charge of everything,” Tung was quoted as saying.
It is important to note that visiting the United States while pregnant, per se, is not illegal. However, the authorities pointed out the businesses, “touted the benefits of giving birth in the U.S., rather than in China, with claims of the U.S. having ’the most attractive nationality’; ‘better air’ and less pollution; ‘priority for jobs in U.S. government’; superior educational resources, including ‘free education from junior high school to public high school’; a more stable political situation; and the potential to ‘receive your senior supplement benefits when you are living overseas’.”
Featured image via YouTube/CGTN