Marianas Variety

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2018-12:05:14A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Chinese top NMI births

THERE’S no arguing with official numbers.

According to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s vital statistics department, Chinese women held the top spot for births in 2012.

Variety first reported on the increase of Chinese “birth tourism” in April last year based on interviews with Medicaid, CHC, private health clinic and tour agency staff.

However, Variety was unable to obtain the exact figures from CHC until this week.

A three-calendar-year comparison from 2010-2012 highlights the steep decline in Carolinian (-44 percent), Filipino (-34 percent) and Chamorro (-26 percent) birth rates.

In 2012, Chamorros gave birth to 251 babies; Filipinos to 216 and Carolinians to just 44.

There was also a significant drop among Koreans giving birth in the NMI from 56 in 2010 to only 32 in 2012.

Pregnancy flights

The birth rate among Chinese tourists skyrocketed between 2010 and 2012, increasing by 175 percent.

Consider that percentage in light of the 29 percent rise in Chinese arrivals predicted for FY 2013 according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.

Direct charter flights from Chinese cities to the Marianas, facilitated by the 45-day visa waiver program, are becoming what some observers labeled “pregnancy trains.”

Eight weekly flights from Shanghai and Beijing fly in and out of the NMI shuttling up to 8,000+ tourists a month.

As the number of direct flights and marketing campaigns rise, the community can expect to see more and more pregnant visitors shuttling between pregnancy hotels, private medical clinics, the hospital and shopping outlets.

Those engaged in the birthing tourism industry are making big money.

A private medical clinic charges from $6,000 to $8,000 for its pre-natal-through-delivery service (birthing package).

Apartment buildings targeting this growing niche market can be found clustered around CHC where renters pay $150 and above per month depending upon the level of accommodation.

Additionally, you have the resident translators, facilitators and pregnancy guides that organize and transport the soon-to-be mothers to doctor’s appointments, errands and after birth, to the passport and social security offices for the official paperwork.

At one Garapan medical clinic it’s a virtual mini-China with a constant flow of pregnant women, husbands with their guides served by the Mandarin-speaking physician.

Visit the clinic during the morning Chinese rush-hour and you’ll hear predominantly Mandarin being spoken in the waiting room as anxious husbands fiddle with their cell phones.

Birthing tourism is a very fast-growing, lucrative business and not just in the NMI.

Residents of several California neighborhoods have recently called authorities to shut down “pregnancy mansions” that house as many as 30 pregnant Chinese women at one time.

While it is legal for a tourist to have a baby while visiting U.S. soil, more and more affected cities are shutting down the pregnancy houses citing sanitation and building code violations.

The NMI has seen only one recent crackdown.

A Taiwanese national was arrested last August on federal charges of encouraging illegal entry of aliens for financial gain, harboring aliens for financial gain and illegal transportation of aliens for financial gain.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Michael D. Lansangan’s report, a Mr. Chen was involved in the recruitment and facilitation of travel, housing and other services to Chinese citizens travelling to Saipan with the intention of giving birth to U.S. citizen children.

Chen did plead guilty to one count of harboring an alien and has been imprisoned for six months.

Next week is his sentencing hearing that could bring additional jail time of up to 10 years.

Despite the feds’ attempt to make an example out of Chen, most tourism watchers believe the trend of giving birth to what some call “anchor babies” by Chinese nationals will continue to rise rapidly.

The advantages to Chinese parents of having U.S.-citizen children are many and heavily advertised on Mandarin-language websites.

In addition to access to U.S. colleges, at the age of 21 years old the child can apply for their parents to become U.S. permanent residents, which entitles them to a vast array of government social services and support.

While a growing number of affluent Chinese parents recognize the benefits of a U.S. passport for their child, the long-term impact of pregnancy tourism on the U.S. is still a hotly debated and controversial topic.

Most immigration experts believe, however, that the U.S. constitution’s 14th Amendment will remain as is.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.”

With that as a reality, the NMI will likely be welcoming many more citizens with an interesting birth story that includes the phrase, “Saipan vacation.”