Friday, February 1, 2019

Federal prosecutors unseal indictments naming 19 people linked to Chinese 'birth tourism' schemes

Homeland Security Investigations led probe into multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Following the arrests this morning of three defendants who allegedly operated “birth tourism” outfits that catered to Chinese clients, federal authorities today unsealed indictments that charge a total of 19 people linked to three schemes that operated across Southern California and charged clients tens of thousands of dollars to help them give birth in the United States.
The indictments charge operators and clients of three “maternity house” or “birthing house” schemes that were dismantled in March 2015 when federal agents executed 35 search warrants, which resulted from international undercover operations.
The 17 cases unsealed today contain the first-ever federal criminal charges brought against operators and customers of birth tourism businesses. The birth tourism operations not only committed widespread immigration fraud and engaged in international money laundering, they also defrauded property owners when leasing the apartments and houses used in their birth tourism schemes, according to the indictments.
These cases were investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles. Substantial assistance was provided by IRS Criminal Investigation, as well as the Irvine Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
The indictments describe birth tourism schemes in which foreign nationals, mostly from China, applied for visitor visas to come to the United States and lied about the length of their trips, where they would stay, and the purposes of their trips – which were to come to the U.S. for three months to give birth so their children would receive U.S. birthright citizenship.
“America’s way of life is not for sale,” said Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Los Angeles. “HSI will aggressively target those who would make a mockery of our laws and our values to benefit and enrich themselves. No one needs to be reminded about the national security and public safety implications of visa fraud and the crimes associated with it. Anyone who would exploit our nation’s generosity and our legal immigration system should be on notice – they may end up being the ones to pay a very steep price.”  Read More

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