Citizenship for Sale?

Citizenship for Sale?

Mariana Alvarado, Arizona Daily Star, June 21, 2009

Tucson Medical Center’s “birth package” gives an official nod to a generations-old practice of wealthy Mexican women coming to U.S. hospitals to give birth. Mexican families do the same thing at all local hospitals, but TMC is the only one actively recruiting their business.

The practice is legal, but offensive to some advocates of tougher U.S. immigration standards.

The Mexican consul general in Tucson said parents naturally want to give their children every advantage and securing U.S. citizenship is something a small percentage of Mexican families can afford.

Expectant mothers can either schedule a Caesarean section or arrive a few weeks before their due dates to give birth at TMC. It is one of 13 packages aimed at Mexican families, some of which include a stay at a local resort and shopping excursion.

TMC’s maternity package costs $2,300 for a vaginal birth with a two-day stay and $4,600 for a Caesarean section and a four-day stay, assuming no complications. That includes exams for the newborn and a massage for the new mother. There is a $500 surcharge per additional child.

“These are families with a lot of money, and some (women) arrive on private jets and are picked up by an ambulance and brought here,” said Shawn Page, TMC’s administrator of international services and relations. “These are families with a lot of clout.”

U.S. citizenship for their children brings even more clout: the opportunity—and right—to live, work and study in the United States. Because their parents do not earn the same right, many children of such arrangements grow up in Mexico and come here as adults for school and work.

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