Maternity Tourism Charges in Orange County
By now you've probably heard about the massive raid against local “maternity tourism” operations in Irvine and other Southern California cities on Tuesday. It's even made the news as far away as Australia. And while you might think that the main legal issue in the story is about immigration, the raid was more focused on gaining evidence of possible fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Undercover Operations in Southern California
A representative of You Win USA, which operates in Irvine, allegedly advised a pair of undercover Homeland Security Investigations operatives on the process of traveling to America from China in order to secure a US passport for a child. You Win USA operates out of an apartment complex across the street from a Homeland Security field office, and was one of multiple sites targeted during the raid in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties.
Undercover agents were advised to come to America before they began to show, and to travel through such popular tourist spots as Hawaii and Las Vegas so as not to arouse suspicion of birth tourism. While coming to the US in order to secure citizenship isn't strictly speaking illegal, organizations like You Win USA are suspected of helping women from China, Turkey, Taiwan, Korea, and other foreign nations falsify employment histories and other information in visa applications. It is also believed that they failed to properly pay for services and care received at local hospitals.
Although no arrests were made, agents did seize boxes of documents and interview several of the parents on the premises. Among the reasons cited for coming to America to give birth were the benefits of public education and making sure that their children would be eligible to apply to American colleges.
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