US: Chinese National Pleads Guilty For Running 'birth Tourism' Scheme

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Dongyuan Li admitted that she used to cater to Chinese nationals to get their newborn US citizenship and helped pregnant foreign nationals to travel to the US.

Written By Kunal Gaurav | Mumbai | Updated On:

While US President Donald Trump had revived the suggestion of ending birthright citizenship, a Chinese national pleaded guilty to federal charges of running ‘birth tourism’. Dongyuan Li, 41, admitted that she used to cater to Chinese nationals to get their newborn US citizenship. The Chinese nationals paid huge sums to Li, ranging from $40,000 to $80,000 for the ‘birth tourism’ scheme. In her plea agreement, Li admitted that her company ‘You Win USA Vacation Services’ helped pregnant foreign nationals to travel to the US to give birth.

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Steps to bypass immigration control

According to the company's website, at least 500 Chinese birth tourism customers availed its services. Those customers were housed in 20 flat in Irvine, south of Los Angeles, said the officials. Li had amassed $3 million through wire transfers from China. The company instructed the customers to follow a series of steps in order to conceal their pregnancies and bypass US immigration control. The steps included taking two flights, one from China to Hawaii and another from Hawaii to Los Angeles. They were specifically told to list the Trump International Hotel in Honolulu as their destination during the stay in Hawaii. 

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Facing imprisonment

Li faces imprisonment up to 15 years and she has agreed, as part of her plea deal, to forfeit, a residence worth more than US $500,000, more than US $850,000, and several Mercedes-Benz vehicles. She will be sentenced for the charges on December 16. While the practice of getting US citizenship for tourists’ children is legal, the mother should not lie in the visa application and should be ready to pay for medical care. 

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Trump's take on birthright citizenship

In August, Donald Trump said that he was looking into birthright citizenship ‘very seriously’, suggesting he would do away with it. Speaking to reporters, as he departed the White House, Trump said birthright citizenship was “frankly ridiculous.” “We’re looking at it very, very seriously,” he said. Trump had called birthright citizenship as a “magnet for illegal immigration”. Trump had also claimed that he would end the birthright citizenship with an executive order. The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to children born in the US irrespective of parent’s immigration status. 

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