Korean citizenship may soon be more attainable for foreign children

Marginal change, given requirement for “deep ties”, with priority given to those whose families have been in Korea for two generations:

The underage children of foreigners with permanent residency in Korea may soon be able to acquire Korean citizenship under a revision to the nationality law proposed by the Ministry of Justice on Monday.

Generally, the acquisition of Korean nationality follows the principle of jus sanguinis, and ethnic Koreans are able to more easily attain Korean citizenship.

However, the Ministry of Justice’s proposed revision to the Nationality Act will introduce a “simple nationality acquisition policy for young children born in Korea to permanent residents.” Under the revised law, if a permanent resident with “deep ties” to Korea gives birth to a child in Korea, the child will become a citizen by simply reporting his or her intent to acquire Korean nationality to the Minister of Justice.

Previously, children born in Korea to permanent residents had to apply for naturalization, even if they completed their primary and secondary education in the country.

Although the revision does not signal a complete abandonment of the jus sanguinis principle, it would make it significantly easier for minors to become Korean citizens earlier in their youth.

If the revision passes, children 6 years old or younger would be able to report an intent to naturalize without any additional requirements. Children who are 7 or older can do the same, provided they have resided in the country five or more years.

However, not all children born on Korean soil to permanent residents can naturalize with ease under the policy. Priority will be given to those children whose families have been in Korea for two or more generations and permanent residents who have “deep blood or cultural ties” to the country.

One of the main beneficiaries of the law will be ethnic Chinese who have resided in Korea for several decades but were barred from citizenship under the strict application of the jus sanguinis principle.

According to government estimates, about 3,900 individuals are currently eligible to acquire Korean nationality under the revised scheme. The Ministry of Justice believes that 600 to 700 additional people will be eligible every year.

“By giving children of permanent residents with deep ties to Korean society an opportunity to acquire nationality early, [the policy] will help foster their cultural identity and establish stability,” the Justice Ministry said. “It will also contribute to secure growth in the labor pool in the era of low birth rates and an aging population.”

Source: Korean citizenship may soon be more attainable for foreign children

COVID-19 scrutiny has stopped some women headed to Canada to give birth, documents allege

While the article is unbalanced, only citing Jamie Liew who dismisses the importance of the issue and the data (Jamie and I continue our debate at Policy Options and elsewhere), good to know that officials are identifying women suspected of misrepresenting their purpose of travel.

While the ATIP under question pertains only to Abu Dhabi, would be interesting to have comparable reports from other main source countries of birth tourists particularly China.

As to the question of the numbers, have written extensively on the strengths and weaknesses of the CIHI numbers (far from perfect but more realistic than the StatsCan/vital stats dramatic understating).

2020 numbers, likely available mid-summer, will provide a good indication of the practice given that visitor visas have declined 96 percent post-COVID, in contrast to other temporary residents where the decline has been much less (international students: 32 percent, IMP and TFWP down by 14 percent, April to November 2020 compared to the same period in 2019).

IRCC work on linking health and immigration data does not appear to have advanced much given COVID-19:

Greater scrutiny of travellers, prompted by COVID-19, has yielded new instances of women from other countries coming to Canada with what officials say is an unspoken plan to deliver their baby here, documents obtained by the Star show.

Some observers have repeatedly cautioned that the practice controversially dubbed “birth tourism” — which is legal — is being overblown and that focus on it has been driven as much by racism as real concern.

The federal government, meanwhile, has said it is studying the issue in an effort to understand the scope of what is happening.

An August 2020 report, obtained through an access-to-information request, offers a look at some of the information the government is getting. 

It was prepared by Canadian government staff in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It says that over a two-week period in June, airline staff, with support from Canada Border Services Agency liaison officers, “intercepted” prior-to-boarding 19 foreign nationals from the Middle East, who were all carrying temporary resident visas, because they were suspected of misrepresenting the purpose of travel.

The report suggests new restrictive citizenship measures in the United States, falling oil prices and economic vulnerability due to the pandemic could be driving more pregnant women from the region to seek to give birth in Canada.

All babies born in Canada receive automatic Canadian citizenship.

Language in the government document states: “While birth tourism is not illegal in Canada, it can undermine Canadians’ confidence in (the government’s) management of migration and citizenship programs.”

Observers, however, say the trend has been exaggerated and that critics are unfairly demonizing non-resident mothers. They note that, generally speaking, many of the foreign women giving birth in Canada are, in fact, not “birth tourists” but international students, migrant workers, foreign government personnel, those seeking to become permanent residents, as well as Canadians living abroad who have chosen to return to Canada to give birth.

“There isn’t enough contextualized data out there to know why people are giving birth in Canada as foreign residents,” said Jamie Liew, a law professor at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s not clear to me that it’s people just floating in and floating out.”

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, foreign nationals cannot be prevented from travelling to Canada to give birth. They can be, however, if they lie about the purpose of travel on their temporary resident visa application.

For its part, the Trudeau government says it is trying to understand the extent of the practice and is in the middle of collecting better data, including how many non-resident mothers are short-term visitors who come to Canada to give birth then leave. A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says the government’s analysis is expected sometime this year.

In some Canadian cities, unregulated for-profit businesses, including so-called “maternity hotels,” have emerged catering to non-resident expectant mothers.

In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, B.C. — whose main hospital has seen the highest number of non-resident births in Canada outside Quebec, according to the federal government — the city council last year passed a motion urging Ottawa to end birthright citizenship altogether. Most non-resident mothers at that hospital list a permanent address in China, provincial records say.

There is wide discrepancy in the existing national data. The Canadian Institute for Health Information says the number of non-resident births in Canada (outside Quebec) has steadily climbed from 3,600 in 2017-18 to 4,400 in 2019-20, representing about one per cent of the 380,000 births in Canada each year. Data from Statistics Canada has previously shown that the number is only in the hundreds.

The report obtained by the Star says “COVID-19 travel restrictions have brought to light a number of birth-tourism related temporary resident visa applicants within IRCC Abu Dhabi’s caseload, as the restrictions have led to closer scrutiny of the purpose of travel at the time of boarding.”

According to the report, the purpose of travel most commonly cited at the time the 19 applied for their visas was “tourism” or “family visit.”

Five of the 19 travellers were women who had previously given birth in Canada and were travelling to give birth in Canada a second time. They were travelling with family members or other companions.

“Some foreign nationals are using their relationship to their children previously born in Canada to attempt to justify entry to Canada to give birth a second time,” the report states. Others cited medical needs of their Canadian-born child.

Ultimately, 18 of the 19 were not allowed to board and their visas were referred back to immigration offices in Abu Dhabi or Riyadh for review. The one traveller who was permitted to board was refused entry in Canada but eventually allowed in due, in part, to possible risk to her pregnancy.

The 18 who were denied boarding were allowed to make their case in writing in response to “procedural fairness letters.” Some acknowledged they had given birth in Canada on a previous trip but noted they had also visited family or done tourism.

“If a traveller visited family and also gave birth, it is harder to reach a finding of misrepresentation as the declared purpose of travel is not false, but incomplete,” the report says.

It is unclear how many of the 18, if any, were eventually allowed to travel to Canada.

The report noted that since the start of the pandemic travel restrictions, the Canadian immigration office in Abu Dhabi had received 30 online requests from individuals seeking an exemption to travel to Canada to allow them to give birth as a “medical procedure or treatment.” The requests for travel were all denied.

“Few, if any, of the above cases would have come to IRCC’s attention in the absence of the COVID-19 travel restrictions,” the report contends. “The considerable number of cases over a short period raises questions regarding the frequency with which residents of the Gulf region are travelling to Canada for birth tourism under normal circumstances, and remaining under the radar. Indeed, the present numbers might be even higher were it not for limited flight availability and hesitation among expecting parents to board a 14-hour flight during a pandemic.”

The report notes that the decision by the U.S. in early 2020 to stop issuing temporary visitor visas to foreign nationals believed to be travelling to the U.S. to give birth, along with increasing economic uncertainty in the region and falling oil prices “will increase push factors for birth tourism to Canada.”

Asked if the pattern cited in the summer report was continuing, a CBSA spokesperson said the agency does not comment on trends or fluctuations.

An IRCC spokesperson said in an email a person is not inadmissible nor can they be denied a visa solely on the grounds that they are pregnant or that they may give birth in Canada.

However, providing false information is considered misrepresentation and has “immigration consequences.”

“While these statistics indicate that birth tourism is not widespread, the Government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice,” the email said.

Liew, the law professor, said she worries the government could be prematurely concluding that cases represent birth tourism or that birth tourism is on the rise.

“There is very little data out there that indicates this is a growing problem,” she said. “I would say it seems like a very benign problem in my estimation.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/01/27/covid-19-scrutiny-has-stopped-more-women-headed-to-canada-to-give-birth-documents-allege.html

Canadian Citizenship: Practice and Policy – Library of Parliament Paper

Good and useful overview:

Canadian citizenship can be obtained through birth on Canadian soil, by descent through birth or adoption outside of Canada to a Canadian citizen, or through naturalization (the process by which citizenship is obtained by a foreign national). Requirements related to citizenship are laid out in the Citizenship Act, as well as in the Citizenship Regulations and Citizenship Regulations, No. 2.

Responsibility for implementing the Citizenship Act lies with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who is supported by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in managing the citizenship application process. The Citizenship Commission – an administrative body under IRCC that is made up of citizenship judges – also plays an important role, with duties including assessing citizenship applications to ensure they meet certain requirements under the Act and administering the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship.

To become a Canadian citizen through naturalization, an individual must first obtain permanent residency in Canada and then apply for citizenship after meeting residency and other requirements. Applicants between 18 and 54 years of age must also complete a written test based on the official citizenship study guide (Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship) and attend an interview to test their abilities in English or French and to discuss their application. Successful applicants attend a citizenship ceremony and take the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship, through which they swear or affirm their allegiance to the Queen of Canada.

Loss of citizenship can occur if it is revoked (for example, due to citizenship being acquired or retained through false representation) or it can be renounced voluntarily (for example, if an individual chooses to become a citizen of a country that does not allow dual citizenship).

Several issues are currently at the forefront of discourse on citizenship policy. For example, census data show that the rate of citizenship among eligible immigrants declined between 2006 and 2016. The citizenship rate varies for different groups, with contributing factors including income level, education level and country of origin.

Another key issue is that of “lost Canadians,” which refers to individuals who were born before the 1977 Citizenship Act came into force and who should have been Canadian citizens under that Act but were deprived of Canadian citizenship because of outdated or obsolete provisions in the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947. Many of the problems associated with “lost Canadians” have been addressed through amendments made to the Citizenship Act since 1977. Those whose cases are not covered by legislative amendments may be granted citizenship on a case-by-case basis at the minister’s discretion.

Finally, the concept of birth tourism refers to the practice by foreign nationals of coming to Canada to give birth for the sole purpose of securing Canadian citizenship for their child. While data suggest an increase in non-resident births in the past decade, it is difficult to determine how many non-resident births are cases of birth tourism. The federal government has recognized the need to better understand the extent of this practice and has commissioned further research on this topic.

Source: https://hillnotes.ca/2020/12/07/executive-summary-canadian-citizenship-practice-and-policy/

Full report link: https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/202064E

6 charged in ‘birth tourism’ scheme that cost U.S. taxpayers millions

Medicaid fraud, not the service itself:

Six people were charged in an elaborate “birth tourism” scheme that helped Turkish women secure U.S. citizenship for their children and cost American taxpayers upward of $2 million, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The alleged ringleaders, Sarah Kaplan and Ibrahim Aksakal, both residents of Long Island, New York, brazenly advertised their services on Turkish-language Facebook pages and websites with titles like “My baby should be born in America,” prosecutors said.

The defendants are accused of providing expectant mothers a full-service experience: lodging in New York, transportation, help applying for citizenship for their children, and purported “insurance” to cover all medical costs, which amounted to fraudulently-obtained Medicaid benefits.

The cost for these services: roughly $7,500, nearly all in cash, prosecutors said.

Between January 2017 and September this year, the suspects were paid approximately $750,000 in fees, and Medicaid disbursed more than $2.1 million in illicitly-obtained benefits, according to prosecutors.

“The defendants cashed in on the desire for birthright citizenship, and the American taxpayer ultimately got stuck with the $2.1 million bill,” Seth DuCharme, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Five of the defendants – Aksakal, Kaplan, Enes Burak Cakiroglu, Fiordalisa Marte and Edgar Rodriguez – were arrested Wednesday morning. They are all residents of Long Island, where they operated seven “birth houses,” prosecutors said.

The sixth suspect, who has yet to be taken into custody, was not identified.

Aksakal, Kaplan and Cakiroglu were charged with conspiring to commit visa fraud, health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Marte and Rodriguez were charged with conspiring to commit health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

It was not immediately clear if they had hired lawyers.

Birth tourism has long brought expectant mothers to the U.S. The benefits are substantial: the child is given American citizenship, granting them a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S. And when they turn 21, they can sponsor their parents’ application for an American green card.

But the six defendants charged Wednesday submitted fraudulent New York state Medicaid benefits applications stating that the Turkish women were permanent New York residents who had no income and who resided in one of the “birth houses” maintained by the suspects, according to court papers.

The suspects submitted at least 99 Medicaid claims for different women, according to court papers. In all, the defendants facilitated the births of approximately 119 children, who now hold U.S. citizenship, prosecutors said.

Two of the defendants, Marte and Rodriguez, used their experience as assistors, people who are trained and certified to help individuals in New York state apply for health coverage, to facilitate the Medicaid part of the scheme, according to court papers.

The $750,000 brought in by the defendants was funneled to bank accounts in Turkey, thereby preventing the government from seizing it, according to court papers.

The defendants allegedly used their web pages to attract customers. A January 2018 post to the “My Baby Should be Born in America” Facebook page reads: “If you believe your baby should be born in the USA and become an American citizen then you are at the right place.”

The post also informed would-be customers that the defendants’ competitors’ fees were higher because of “misguided information that insurance will not cover expensive hospital and birth fees,” prosecutors said.

Source: 6 charged in ‘birth tourism’ scheme that cost U.S. taxpayers millions

Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright #citizenship | TheHill

Last gasps, supported by the usual groups. Executive orders can for the most part be easily undone by the Biden administration:

The Trump administration has revived discussions around taking executive action targeting birthright citizenship in its final weeks before leaving office, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

President Trump has spoken throughout his first term about ending birthright citizenship. Drafts of a possible order have been circulating for some time, and there is now internal discussion about finalizing it before the Biden administration takes over in January, sources said.

The administration is aware the order would be promptly challenged in court, but officials would hope to get a ruling on whether birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment, according to one source familiar with the plans. Many lawmakers and experts have argued it is protected, but the courts have not definitively ruled on the issue.

“Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people, but I won’t speculate or comment on potential executive action,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.The Department of Justice has been consulted about a possible birthright citizenship order given it would deal with the legal implications of the new policy. A spokeswoman for the department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The birthright citizenship measure is being discussed as one of multiple executive actions the Trump administration could take on its way out the door. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told aides following Election Day to come up with possible policy priorities to push through in the two months before Inauguration Day.

Others in the works include additional reforms to the H-1B visa program, regulatory reforms and measures targeting China. The president earlier Friday announced two major actions aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs.

The wave of action reflects how many in the White House are attempting to cement their agenda before the Biden administration takes over in January, even as Trump refuses to concede the race and has pursued thus far unsuccessful legal challenges in key battleground states.

The president first proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea in 2018 during an Axios interview, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

Trump in August 2019 again said his administration was “very seriously” considering a measure to end birthright citizenship.

In each instance, lawmakers and legal experts have pushed back on the idea and cast doubt on Trump’s ability to unilaterally end birthright citizenship. They have asserted that birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment, which states, in part, that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Some outside groups and allies of the administration have wondered why Trump has waited until his final weeks in office to follow through on a birthright citizenship order that he has talked about for years.

“The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was clearly intended to guarantee that emancipated slaves would properly be recognized as U.S. citizens,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “It is a fundamental misapplication of this clause that U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are granted automatic citizenship, much less the offspring of people who come here to simply give birth on American soil.”

“If the president finally issues a long-awaited executive order limiting birthright citizenship, it will be up to the Supreme Court to resolve this issue once and for all,” Hauman added.

Source: Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship | TheHill

Hearing on birthright citizenship in U.S. territories Wednesday

Decision and rationale will be interesting:

Arguments will be heard Wednesday in an ongoing birthright citizenship case being appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice will argue in the appeals court to reverse a ruling in Fitisemanu v. United States, which recognized that individuals born in U.S. territories have the same right to citizenship as those born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, a release from Equally American stated.

Lead plaintiff John Fitisemanu was born in American Samoa – a U.S. territory since 1900.  For the last 20 years he has been a taxpaying, U.S. passport holding resident of Utah. However, based on a discriminatory federal law, he is labeled a “national, but not a citizen, of the United States.”

In December, a district court recognized that he is a natural-born U.S. citizen. The next day, Fitisemanu registered to vote. But because the district court later stayed its ruling pending appeal, Fitisemanu will be unable to vote in November unless the district court’s ruling is affirmed by the 10th Circuit.

“With an important election around the corner, I am hopeful the 10th Circuit will act quickly so that I will finally be able to vote,” Fitisemanu said in advance of the argument. “All my life I’ve met my obligations as an American, it is time I’m able to exercise my rights as a citizen.”

Source: Hearing on birthright citizenship in U.S. territories Wednesday

‘Anchor babies’: the ‘ludicrous’ immigration myth that treats people as pawns

A different situation than that normally captured by the term “birth tourists” without the abuse implied by those visiting only to give birth for the purposes of obtaining citizenship for their child:

Daira García wakes up at 5.50am. She takes out her dog, then tries to eat some breakfast before boarding the bus that gets her to school by 7.26 in the morning.

After class, she heads back home, where her parents, Silvia and Jorge, watch Noticiero and sip mate (she sometimes tries the drink as well but admits she’s never quite gotten used to it). They eat something, talk. When Daira goes off to finish her homework, she forgoes the desk in her room to curl up in her parents’ bed.

“It’s more comfy,” she quips.

Daira, 17, has a fairly standard routine for an American teenager: school, homework, family time. But unlike most kids, the schedule she’s come to rely on each day could easily be disrupted at any point.

Silvia and Jorge traveled from Argentina to the United States as 2001 became 2002, and with a new year came their new life in an unknown country. Daira’s big brother was just an infant then; now a college student, he doesn’t even really remember the place where he was born. And yet he’s only shielded from deportation because of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), an Obama-era program the Trump administration has been trying to end for years. Silvia and Jorge, meanwhile, have no protection and could be picked up by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) at any time.

Daira begins to cry just thinking about it.

“We’ve never had a plan for it if it happened,” Silvia says in Spanish. “Maybe we don’t give much thought to that because we think it’s healthier.”

An estimated 4.1 million US-citizen children lived with at least one undocumented parent in recent years, according to the Migration Policy Institute. They’re kids who anti-immigrant groups disparage as “anchor babies”, a derogatory term that insinuates these children are little more than pawns used by their immigrant parents to get a foothold in the US and eventually become citizens themselves.

Source: ‘Anchor babies’: the ‘ludicrous’ immigration myth that treats people as pawns

Birth Tourism: Considering the Enhanced Drivers Licence Approach

When the then Conservative government considered limiting birthright citizenship to those born to Canadian citizens or permanent residents in 2011-12, two options were considered: the federal government citizenship certificates to those entitled or incorporating citizenship information in birth certificates.

The latter option was preferred given the prevalence of birth certificates for identification purposes. My earlier article outlines the opposition to this proposed change (What the previous government learned about birth tourism).

This somewhat in-the-weeds piece looks at the earlier successful experience the federal government had with respect to the incorporation of citizenship information in drivers licenses in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec (which later ended issuing Enhanced Drivers Licences given low demand), and what lessons that might have should a future government decide on curtailing birthright citizenship to children born to citizens and permanent residents..

What intrigued me in researching the matter was that the EDL experience did not appear to inform the subsequent birth tourism consultation and policy processes, even if it was the same group, my former team at IRCC, that was responsible for both.

The other interesting aspect was that governments over-estimated the demand for EDLs and thus provincial governments are essentially subsidizing their EDL programs and yet only Quebec cancelled their program.

Birth Tourism – The Enhanced Drivers License Example

IRCC Minister commends Richmond council for tackling birth tourism

No signalling of change or new studies or initiatives as expected (need to await the results of the IRCC, CIHI, StatsCan analysis of those non-resident self-pay on visitor visas compared to other temporary residents):

Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, told the Richmond News the federal government wants to “weed out” abuses of the immigration system, but he added the principle of “jus soli” – birthright citizenship – has served Canada well.

Birthright citizenship has been in existence in Canada since 1947 and it is also a common practise in other countries, like the U.S. and some Commonwealth countries, Mendicino pointed out.

“There are families who do come to Canada and do avail themselves of this principle and they’re able to bestow upon their children Canadian citizenship as a result of this principle – along with that a number of rights and privileges,” he said, adding “it’s a principle that has absolutely served the country well.”

But Richmond has become known as the “epicentre” of birth tourism, attracting people who come to give birth here in order to secure Canadian citizenship for their baby. In the past year, 23 per cent of babies born at Richmond Hospital were born to non-residents.

Several businesses advertise – exclusively in the Chinese language – for birth tourism services, saying they will provide accommodations for pregnant women and help with after-care and paperwork.

Richmond council passed a motion on Monday to push the minister to end automatic citizenship for babies born to non-residents.

Mendicino said he “commends” the mayor and council of Richmond for having a discussion about the birth tourism and he will reflect on the motion that was passed. The issue needs to be monitored and tracked “very closely,” he said.

“I think we should express some gratitude to the City of Richmond and the council for examining the issue and advocating what the issues are within the context of the concern,” he said. “It’s more about determining and finding where the abuses are within the system rather than getting rid of the principle.”

Mendicino said the federal government is taking “concrete steps” to strengthen the oversight of immigration consultants “to really hold accountable any individuals who are trying to backdoor or take advantage of the system.”

He added the federal government wants to work with provincial partners and municipalities like Richmond to “weed out any abuse of our immigration system.”

There was a level of frustration at Richmond council on Monday – directed somewhat at Vancouver Coastal Health, the provincial government and the federal government – as councillors debated the merits and wording of a letter to push the federal minister of immigration to tackle birth tourism.

Voting against the motion were Couns. Alexa Loo, Kelly Greene and Michael Wolfe.

While Greene said she’s 100 per cent against birth tourism, she felt the motion was worded so that it could cause “disproportionate harm” to “vulnerable people such as refugees and stateless people.”

She said the harm would be exclusively to people of colour and she didn’t want to see at-risk people further marginalized.

“The motion should be to stop birth tourism,” Greene said. “It’s not – it asks to stop birthright citizenship for a broad swath of people.”

Coun. Bill McNulty said he sees birth tourism in his neighbourhood and called on senior governments to take action.

“I think this is an issue that really has put us in a vulnerable position – the two levels of government are totally out of touch with what’s happening in the communities,” McNulty said.

He also suggested the city needs to push Vancouver Coastal Health into action, considering 66 per cent of non-resident births in B.C. take place at Richmond Hospital.

Au echoed the sentiment that VCH should look into the issue, saying the health authority is “not willing to touch this.”

However, VCH spokesperson Catherine Loiacono pointed out this is a federal issue and health care professionals have a duty to provide care to anyone who needs it.
“Care is always triaged according to the safety of the mother and baby – mothers needing immediate care are seen first,” she added.

Nursing baseline staffing is based on patient volumes – not on census data. A staffing review in 2019 found that Richmond Hospital is staffed “appropriately” for patient safety and quality care, Loiacono said. Because the nature of giving birth is unpredictable, if there are increased numbers of patients, more resources are brought in, she added.

Source: Minister commends Richmond council for tackling birth tourism

Richmond council asks feds to ban birth tourism

More from the epicentre. Good that they are also looking at possible local approaches:

Richmond city council wants the new federal minister of immigration to tackle the problem of birth tourism.

A motion by Coun. Carol Day to write to Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, urging him to end birthright citizenship for non-Canadians was supported by almost all of council at Monday’s committee meeting.

In the meantime, city staff are fining birth tourism operators on any illegal activity they may be running – but because there is no business license for birth tourism, they can’t be shut down for advertising birth tourism services, explained Cecelia Achiam, general manager of community safety.

“We do not regulate something that we could not approve, so birth tourism is not something that we could regulate at this point,” Achiam said.

This was challenged by the mayor, Malcolm Brodie, however, at the meeting, and he asked staff to find out whether it is possible to shut them down based on the fact they are an illegal business.

“If they’re doing something that’s unlicensed and not allowed, you’re telling me you can’t do anything about it – surely it’s operating a business without a license,” Brodie said.

Currently, staff will fine any activity advertised by birth tourism services if they don’t have a license, explained Achiam, for example, if they advertise tutoring services, the city can fine them if they don’t have a business license for tutoring – or if they advertise food services and airport pickup/dropoff services without the correct licenses.

The motion passed by council was to write to the new minister to ask for “immediate permanent changes” to end automatic citizenship for babies born in Canada to non-resident, non-Canadian parents.

Greene pointed out that staffing at Richmond Hospital is based on census data, but this would not take into account the quarter of the total number of births that are to non-residents.

“We’re definitely seeing service impacts – I’ve personally been impacted,” Greene said.

Of the countries that have birthright citizenship, North America is a desirable destination, she said, but this is something the “ultra-rich” only can do.

“It feels really unfair and it doesn’t feel right to shop for your citizenship,” Greene said.

Greene also criticized MLA Jas Johal for praising the U.S. government move to ban pregnant women from getting tourist visas, something Greene called “policing women” by profiling them if they’re pregnant when applying for a tourist visa.

The U.S. State Department put in rules more than a week ago that banned women who were pregnant fromgetting tourist visas to the U.S.

Greene called this a “horrifying violation of human rights.”

She said she wants the letter to reflect that Richmond wants to end a practise where “people essentially buy their citizenship so that we’re never ever in a situation where we’re policing women’s bodies.”

Greene also called for an amendment that talked about changes not affecting vulnerable and stateless people but this didn’t pass.

Coun. Bill McNulty said the accommodation rules need to be revisited, because birth tourist stays don’t fall under short-term rentals, rather the provincially regulated long-term rentals.

“I think there are many loopholes to be closed and I think the city can close some of them within our community,” he said.

This was reiterated by Coun. Harold Steves who suggested long-term rentals for birth tourism are actually turning homes into hotels.

McNulty also suggested sending the letter to all MPs in Canada since it’s a federal issue.

“If you want something to be done at the federal level … I think we have to let everybody know,” he said.

Greene was the only councillor who voted against the motion.

Mendicino did not return repeated requests from the Richmond News for an interview.