US federal agents raid 20 suspected ‘maternity hotels’
US federal agents raided about 20 Southern California locations on Tuesday (March 3) suspected of involvement in “maternity tourism”.
These schemes offer travel and lodging services to pregnant foreign women seeking to give birth in the United States, immigration officials said.
Authorities said the so-called maternity hotels targeted in the sweep catered largely to women from China who paid US$15,000 to US$50,000 (S$20,000 to S$68,000), depending on services provided.
The women want to give birth in the US in the hope of obtaining US citizenship for their children.
Based on the results of previous investigations, the women apparently pay cash for pre-natal medical treatment and actual delivery of their babies, according to a statement issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
The locations searched included apartment complexes and other sites in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties that were suspected of housing foreign clients, ICE said.
No arrests were anticipated from Tuesday’s raids.
But investigators were seeking evidence related to such possible criminal offences as visa and tax fraud, money-laundering and conspiracy, according to the agency.