El Paso News

Special Report: Born in America

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - It's a common story in El Paso, parents crossing the international bridge in hopes of delivering a U.S. Citizen. The practice of "birth tourism" happens across the country, not just in the Borderland.

Abish Fajardo and her husband Fernando are both Mexican Citizens, they're proud parents to three girls who were all born in El Paso. Abish is pregnant with a baby boy, he too will be delivered in the U.S.

"I really think it's a great opportunity for our children to have more options when they grow up", says Abish. Both Abish and Fernando want the best for their children and they believe having two nationalities gives them more opportunities.

Some people may question the legality of this practice and the truth is, it's completely legal. Lynn Arnold, a Midwife and Administrative Director at The Retreat in Central El Paso says many of her international patients are scrutinized before coming the states, and they're from all over the world.

"We have people from China, we have people from Japan and as the time has evolved, we're now starting to see more of the African nations", says Arnold. Delivering in the United States can cost thousands of dollars, sometimes mothers have to pay for the services in advance when coming from overseas. Patients oftentimes have to meet financial criteria and political criteria before being given permission from their country to deliver internationally.

While on the campaign trail in 2016, Candidate Donald Trump called for an end to birthright citizenship calling it the "biggest magnet for illegal immigration" and questioning the 14th Amendment.

Written in the Constitution, Amendment 14 says in part "All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizen of the United States".

Arnold says people used to think that automatically the whole family would wind up in the states with the child, but logistically it just don't happen that way. The citizenship doesn't apply to the baby's parents. The kids can help their parents become U.S. Citizens by sponsoring their legal status, but they can't start that paperwork until they're 21. Although some families may be seeking a way into the United States, not all parents are looking for citizenship.

"They can either stay in Mexico, come here and study or do whatever they decide with greater options for them", Abish says. Both Abish and Fernando say they're not looking for anything for themselves, rather more options for their kids in the future.

There is no official data on birth tourism in the United States, but it is happening everyday. To be clear, while the babies born in the U.S. have American Citizenship, they don't always have citizenship to the country where their parents are from. Parents have to file additional paperwork if they want their kids to have dual nationalities. 


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