May 28, 2002


The Baby Registry of Choice : Thousands of pregnant South Koreans travel to the U.S. to give birth to American citizens. A mini-industry has been created to serve them. (BARBARA DEMICK, 5/25/02, LA Times)
Those who can cough up the $20,000 or so it costs are coming to the United States by the thousands to give birth so their newborns can have American citizenship. Their reasons range from a desire to enroll their offspring in American schools to enabling them to avoid South Korean military service.

Los Angeles is the most popular destination because of its large Korean-speaking population, along with New York, Boston, Hawaii and even Guam. Although there are no figures on how many "tourists" overall have babies in the U.S., the practice is also believed to be popular among women from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

So many are doing it, in fact, that a mini-industry has developed here of agencies that refer expectant mothers to travel agents, immigration lawyers, prenatal clinics, hospitals and even baby-sitters, arranging what are, in effect, package tours for pregnant women.

"From birth to citizenship," advertises one Korean-language Web site ( that helps women give birth in Los Angeles.

The United States is one of the few countries that grants citizenship to anyone born on its soil. Britain and Australia altered similar laws in the 1980s.

Efforts by immigration foes in Congress to stop the practice have failed because the citizenship rights of such children, even those of illegal immigrants, appear to be guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, added after the Civil War to bestow the right on the descendants of slaves.

It would be better if the families just came here to live permanently. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2002 7:21 AM
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