Birth Tourism Crackdown: Arrest of China-Linked Operators

In California, three people were arrested for allegedly operating a so called “birth tourism” scheme marketed towards Chinese clients. The charges included conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, international money laundering, and identity theft. According to the US Attorney General’s office, those in custody are accused of maintaining a business in Southern California that charged Chinese clients tens of thousands of dollars in fees in exchange for assistance for giving birth in the United States. The indictments unsealed late last month, are the first-ever federal criminal charges brought against a birth tourism scheme.

Birth Tourism

Birth tourism is a multi-million-dollar immigration fraud criminal industry that operates globally. These schemes are often housed in the US and help pregnant women with foreign nationality enter the US under a tourist visa, aiding in Consulate interviews, border entry, and visa payments. Once admitted into the US, these birth tourism operations typically arrange housing and other amenities while women wait to give birth on US soil. Essentially, these birth tourism schemes operate to provide children of wealthy foreigners with rights and privileges of US citizenship. Those alleged of operating a birth tourism scheme in California could be among hundreds of similar immigration fraud businesses operating across the United States.

Details of Indictment

According to the Department of Justice, those arrested stand accused of charging foreign mothers tens of thousands of dollars to provide their unborn children the “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.” One of the alleged in the indictment, Dongyuan Li, stands accused of operating a birth tourism business under the name You Win USA. Li allegedly used several apartments in Irvine California to house more than 500 Chinese birth tourism clients, charging between $40,000 and $80,000. Li is accused of receiving $3 million in wire transfers from China in two years. Also listed in the indictment is Wen Rui Deng, who stands accused of assisting over 8,000 women give birth in the US in the last two decades. Deng is among the 16 others listed in the indictment who are believed to have fled the US to avoid prosecution. The indictment alleges that many of the clients failed to pay medical bills associated with the birth of the child.

Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security, promised aggressive targeting for those who make a “mockery of our laws and our values to benefit and enrich themselves.” This is yet another instance immigration fraud exposure fronted by DHS and other federal immigration agencies. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and IRS Criminal Investigation worked together with the FBI to secure the indictment. Those in custody await trial and are innocent until proven guilty.