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    caasduit's Avatar
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    Birth Tourism

    Special Report: Born In The USA

    It's called Birth Tourism -- pregnant women traveling to the United States to give birth here, so their babies can automatically become US Citizens. It's not illegal, and there are businesses here in Los Angeles that cater to it. Residents in one neighborhood say they are upset because they say birth tourism has come to their street and brought with it all the noise and traffic of a business. Ana Garcia has this exclusive investigation.

    Video | Images

    (The following is a verbatim transcript of the report.)

    ANA GARCIA: Gramercy Place is a quiet street dotted with craftsman homes in a community nestled between Korea Town and wealthy Hancock Park.

    RESIDENT: That's why we bought here. It's peaceful.

    GARCIA: It's a residential zone according to the city, but neighbors say there's a business operating out of this house.

    RALPH CATALDO, NEIGHBOR: (Referring to a home across the street) It caters to Korean women who come to this country to have babies.

    GARCIA: Ralph Cataldo lives across the street and says he sees it all from his front window.

    GARCIA: So what did you think when you saw all these pregnant women?

    CATALDO: I didn't know what to think.

    GARCIA: So he googled the address.

    CATALDO: Up comes a picture of the house across the street, clearly taken from my front yard.

    GARCIA: Photos of the house are advertised on two Web sites: BirthInUSA.com and Gramercyvilla.com. (Editor's Note: Both Web sites came up blank when tested Friday morning.) According to the sites, Gramercy Place is where you stay while you're pregnant. After the baby is born you transfer to (indicating another house) this house a few blocks away on Lucerne. Posted photos show the accommodations for mom and newborns.

    We asked Channel 4 News reporter Jinah Kim to translate.

    JINAH KIM, CHANNEL 4 REPORTER: Based on what I read, it's about $6,000 minimum ... It says if you need to extend your visa or if you're having trouble getting a visa, we can help you.

    GARCIA: Our cameras watched both properties for six weeks, and we saw different pregnant women going in and out of here. We saw a baby at the second house. It's difficult to tell how many may be staying here, but according to real estate listings from last summer, the Lucerne house is described as a "postnatal unit" "designed for board and care facility" with "6 bedrooms" and "monthly income of $35-37,000."

    CATALDO: The entire neighborhood is upset and annoyed by it.

    GARCIA: So much so (that) more than a dozen neighbors signed a petition and sent it to the city. The city dispatched inspectors from Building and Safety to both houses.

    LUKE ZAMPERINI, CITY INSPECTOR, BUILDING AND SAFETY: We met with one of the owners, and he said it is just a boarding house.

    GARCIA: Which, according to Inspector Luke Zamperini, is not permitted in an R-1 residential zone.

    ZAMPERINI: We issued orders to comply

    GARCIA: But some see this as more than just a zoning violation. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is investigating the visa angle.

    U.S. REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-ORANGE COUNTY): What you have uncovered here is a gaming of the system that may be technically legal but screams out for reform.

    GARCIA: Rohrabacher wants to change the 14th amendment of the Constitution.

    WADE PRADER, IMMIGRATION OFFICER: (The 14th amendment) guarantees citizenship to people born in the United States.

    GARCIA: (The 14th amendement applies) no matter what their parents' status, according to Wade Prater of U.S. immigration. Prater says he wants to find out if tourist visas are being misused here.

    PRADER: As far as the parent misrepresenting their intention to come to the U.S. ... it is something we definitely want to look in to.

    EDWARD CHANG, PROFESSOR OF ASIAN STUDIES: From the mother's perspective, they are trying to do anything they can for their children.

    GARCIA: Edward Chang, a professor of Asian American Studies at UC Riverside, says wealthy Koreans can pay to have their children born in the US. Citizenship for the newborn would mean they could avoid mandatory military service in Korea, and --

    CHANG: Many Korean parents in Korea want to send their children to top U.S. Universities.

    GARCIA: In addition to the baby getting all benefits of being a U.S. citizen, once he's 21, he can petition U.S. immigration to bring his family over.

    ROHRABACHER: Just because it happens later down the road doesn't mean that family doesn't count on it and isn't willing to pay a good sum of money.

    GARCIA: We wrote to the owner of the properties, Jay Surh, but he refused an interview. However, a woman who neighbors say they see all the time at Gramercy Place walked over when she spotted our camera.

    WOMAN: Did you take my picture?

    CAMERAMAN: Yes, I did.

    GARCIA: A relative of the owners called us and says nothing illegal or unlawful happens in the two houses. They also say all the pregnant women we saw were friends or relative from New Jersey.

    And they claim the income on the real estate listing and the information on the Web sites are not accurate.

    However, a domain search of the Gramercy Villa Web site lists Eunice Serh as the administrator, and she appears on the Gramercy Place mortgage, as the owner's wife on county records.

    KIM: The second Web site is virtually identical to the first Web site.

    GARCIA: The neighbors say they want the business to stop.

    CATALDO: I'd like to see them move. I'd like to see them close it.

    ZAMPERINI: If they don't comply, our only recourse is to prosecute them.

    GARCIA: Building and Safety says the owners have 30 days to comply; in other words, stop renting out rooms by May 21.

    ANCHOR TAG: U.S. Immigration officials say it's difficult to know how many pregnant women from all over the world come here every year to have their babies, but some published reports estimate it's in the thousands. And we want to make clear it's not against the law to come here to give birth.

  2. #2
    caasduit's Avatar
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    If anyone has other examples of Anchor baby's as a business, I need the info.

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