The Tough Life Of An Anchor Baby

The recent news about the closing of a home in San Gabriel, CA that housed a maternity tourism business, along with the recent focus on anchor babies, has put even more light on the fate of the babies born to wealthy Chinese moms in the United States. When the news first came to light that around 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in 2008 had a parent without U.S. citizenship, not much thought was placed on the many wealthy Chinese women who take vacations to the U.S., or what happens to them after they return to China.

It turns out going to all the trouble of getting a Chinese baby U.S. citizenship is only the starting point in a long line of hassles the parents will have to face. The troubles start with enrolling the child in school. China does not recognize dual citizenship, so the very fact the baby has a U.S. passport means that the child cannot be registered or admitted to Chinese schools.

That means a parent needs to decide whether to pay more to get their child into a school for foreigners (a long term and expensive commitment), or try and fake documents so it looks like the child was born in China, and get them a Chinese passport (and hide the fact the child has a U.S. passport).

Hiding a U.S. passport is tougher than you think, since traveling to the U.S. requires the use of a U.S. passport if you’re claiming dual citizenship in the U.S., so families with children who have both U.S. and Chinese passports have to travel to an intermediary country, leaving China with the child’s Chinese passport, and then using the U.S. passport from the intermediate destination if they wish to visit the States.

The troubles becomes even tougher when the child grows older. At the age of 15 the child needs to start paying U.S. taxes. If they choose not to pay any taxes there are consequences beyond not receiving U.S. welfare benefits as described in an MSN article:

Also of particular interest to Chinese families of anchor babies is that while their children will one day be able to sponsor their the parents American citizenship when the children turn 21, it will be a difficult case to make to immigration officers about their suitability if their offspring have not paid any taxes into the system.

As a one mother in a Time article suggests:

“Giving birth to a child in the States is a wonderful dream, but a very costly one too,” Song Jingwen concludes. “People who choose to go down this path must know that they will not be paying only for birthing and post birthing care, but they will also be paying a lot more for the whole life.”

While having a child in the U.S. may bring the child the coveted status of U.S. citizenship, obviously the prospective parents have a lot more to consider before they decide to go down this route.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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