Yu Min Zhao, a 33-year-old teacher from Saipan, filed suit against the USA this week after Customs and Border Protection agents accused her of ‘birth tourism’ – the practice of giving birth to a child on US soil to pave the way for the mother to immigrate.
Yu was set to go on a week-long vacation with her husband to the Northern Mariana Islands – a US territory that’s only a 4-hour flight from China – when she was detained at the airport by officials claiming a dress Yu packed to wear at the beach was a maternity dress.
In the complaint she filed, Yu says after she was denied entry she was “handcuffed and placed in detention room equipped only with a metal bench for approximately twenty-two (22) hours where she was denied access to communication with anyone, including her husband.”
Federal agents, after putting her into solitary confinement, told her she had no rights because of her alien status and wasn’t allowed to speak to an attorney. Yu allegedly wasn’t allowed to eat or sleep during the process that started on October 18, 2013, and she said officers tried to get her to sign a voluntary departure form but only ask in English, not Chinese, and when she refused they threatened to arrest and deport her husband.
According to Yu, she screamed for help whenever someone opened the door, which annoyed the agents detaining her. To punish her for what they perceived as a lack of cooperation, Yu says the officers tackled her, shoved her face-first against a wall, twisted her hands behind her back and slammed her head against a wall until she agreed to sign the form.
Yu’s husband was not denied access to the country like his wife when he arrived at the airport, he was admitted under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver program, which allows those with passports from participating countries (of which there are 12) to travel to the United States without a visa.
The Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant group that is a spinoff of another anti-immigrant group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, claims that more than a third of the Northern Mariana Islands’ births in 2012 were to Chinese women, and the numbers were concerning island politicians and the Commonwealth Healthcare agency.
If you are seeking legal counsel for a similar issue, or would like to know more about birth tourism and how it might affect you, please get in touch with Lyttle Law Firm, either by sending an inquiry through the website or by calling 512-215-5225.