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Los Angeles targets Chinese 'birth tourists'

Should Pasadena and Arcadia police crack down on
Should Pasadena and Arcadia police crack down on "birth tourism"?
Stock Photo Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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The lure of citizenship has brought a number of pregnant women from China to the U.S. to give birth. Their top destination in Los Angeles is the San Gabriel Valley, which has a sizable Chinese population. These expectant mothers typically spend three to four months in the area, staying at maternity wards—typically single-family homes or apartment units that have been converted illegally to house them—until after they give birth.

These women usually leave the country with their babies once they get their documents. Irate residents living close to these maternity wards have long complained about sanitary and noise issues. But safety is another concern. “They’re a moneymaking machine. They’re totally unsafe,” Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe, who’s been looking into the issue, recently told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s so obvious that they jeopardise not only the health of the baby, but the mother as well.”

Last week, the City of Arcadia said it’s hiring a full-time detective to look into what options are available to reign in these birthing homes. Should more be done to keep maternity tourists from coming to Los Angeles? Critics say they are just exploiting the system, but there are also those who say they benefit the local economy, both in the short and long run.


Don Knabe, member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, serving the Fourth District

Kathleen Brush, a global business, leadership and strategy consultant. Her articles have appeared in the The Washington Post, CNBC, Financial Times China and many other publications. She wrote a piece on The Street looking at the economic benefits of maternity tourism in Los Angeles and New York.