The U.S Constitution states that anyone born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen regardless of where their parents are from. What’s more is that there are no laws prohibiting pregnant women from entering the United States. This led to a recent increase in birth tourism in the U.S. and Canada, particularly from China. Recently, California was the site of “maternity hotels”– where women with foreign passports would go during their pregnancies. In response, ICE raided these hotels on the grounds that their operators were aiding women who gained visas under false pretenses.
In a typical situation, this should not be an issue. If you are pregnant, you may give birth using Medicaid on a Visitor Visa (B-1/B-2). However, problems may arise in trying to gain re-entry. There have been many cases in which Immigration denied re-entry to women who have left the U.S. after giving birth.
A "public charge" is a rather pejorative term for someone who will likely depend on the government for subsistence. In the eyes of the government, you may seem like a public charge if you use Medicaid for childbirth. If you do, ICE may deny you re-entry on this basis. This could happen for a few reasons. Having a citizen child may make it seems more likely that you would like to emigrate permanently to the United States. Furthermore, since you used Medicaid for childbirth, the government assumes you'll continue to rely on government support. It's true that Immigration often rejects Visas for no reason at all. However, potentially being a "public charge" may worsen your chances of gaining re-entry.
Although this is not a very well-known issue, it is very real and occurs more often than you may think. In fact, the reason I chose to write this article is that this happened to one of my own friends. This friend bought a house in Long Island and lived here with a green card. She gave birth in the U.S. under Medicaid coverage, then left the country– intending to return of course. However, upon re-entry, Immigration revoked her green card and she had to sell her new house.
Although it is not illegal to give birth in the U.S. using a green card or Visitor Visa, there are things to keep in mind. It's not safe to assume that because your child is a citizen, that you will be able to gain re-entry if you leave. Under the Obama administration, these women were allowed re-entry more often. However, under Trump, ICE is getting more strict in deciding who to allow and deny access. Therefore, keep in mind that your child's citizenship is not enough to entitle you to re-entry. Don't allow your plans to be disrupted or your future to be ruined because of a lack of information.
The only way for a foreigner to give birth in the U.S. and avoid the chance of being denied re-entry, she would need to get private insurance. However, lately, it has gotten nearly impossible to find insurance that covers pregnancy. What makes things worse is even if you do find a plan, the insurance company might even remove you from it if you aren't from the U.S.. There have been cases in which companies have kicked people off their plan because the company could not locate the clients' naturalization certificates. In essence, if you are a foreigner intending to give birth in the U.S., your best option is to contact a broker like us. We specialize in finding coverage for immigrant families. We are also very familiar with how different insurance companies cover pregnancy and their relationships with the government. You can trust us to find you the coverage you need without fear of losing coverage or your future in the U.S..