US issues new rules restricting travel by pregnant foreigners, fearing the use of "birth tourism"

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In this Dec. 10, 2015, file photo, pedestrians crossing from Mexico into the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry wait in line in San Diego. The Trump administration is proposing rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers and other forms of public assistance. The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, that current and past receipt of certain public benefits above thresholds will be considered “a heavily weighed negative factor” in granting green cards as well as temporary visas. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

The Trump administration will implement a new policy Friday to make it more difficult for foreign nationals to travel to give birth on US soil to ensure their children become American citizens, a practice commonly known as “birth tourism.”

The new rules will be effective January 24, according to a State Department cable obtained by CNN, which was sent on Wednesday to embassies around the world.

The White House announced Thursday that the State Department “will no longer issue temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) visas to aliens seeking to enter the United States for ‘birth tourism.'”

Consular officers were told they can’t directly ask a woman if they are pregnant, according to the cable.

“You must not ask a visa applicant whether they are pregnant unless you have a specific articulable reason to believe they may be pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States. You should document any such reason in your case notes,” reads the cable. “You must not, as a matter of course, ask all female applicants (or any specific sub-sets of applicants) whether they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.”

Visitors to the US will be denied temporary visas if it’s found that the “primary purpose” of travel is for obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the US, according to an amended State Department regulation to be published Friday.

CNN reported earlier this week that this policy was expected to be announced soon. A State Department official told CNN that the rule change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks.

According to the rule, the State Department does “not believe that visiting the US for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship” for a child “is a legitimate activity.”

The rule is specific to “B nonimmigrant” visas, which are obtained for temporary visitors for business or tourism.

Additionally, the regulation requires that visa applicants who seek medical treatment in the US must demonstrate their arrangements for treatment and establish their ability to pay all associated costs.

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