US NEWS | US charges 20 people over Chinese birth tourism schemes Daily Mail Online


US NEWS | US charges 20 people over Chinese birth tourism schemes Daily Mail Online The largest ever crackdown on birth tourism businesses that help Chinese women travel to the United States to deliver anchor babies has resulted in twenty arrests. Three people  Dongyuan Li, 41, Michael Wei Yueh Liu, 53, and Jing Dong, 42, were arrested in Southern California on charges including conspiracy, visa fraud and money laundering.  More than a dozen others, among them Lis business partner Chao Chen, have also been charged in cases stemming from three so called birth tourism businesses. Many of the suspects believed to be currently living in China, and the crackdown marks the first time the United States has criminally prosecuted birth tourism operators, said the U.S. attorneys office. Twenty people have been charged in an unprecedented crackdown on businesses that helped hundreds of Chinese women travel to the US to give birth to anchor babies, including the company You Win USA Vacation Services pictured   The crackdown comes nearly four years after federal agents raided an apartment building in Irvine, California, that housed a maternity hotel pictured The businesses which were raided by federal agents in March 2015 billed pregnant Chinese women tens of thousands of dollars and some as much as dollar 100,000 to travel to California to deliver their babies in American hospitals so the children would automatically obtain U.S. citizenship, prosecutors said. It isnt illegal to visit the United States while pregnant but authorities said the businesses, with names like You Win USA Vacation Servbices, Star Baby Care and USA Happy Baby, touted the benefits of having American citizen babies and had women hide their pregnancies while seeking travel visas and lie about their planned trips.  One maternity tourism company allegedly coached clients to tell consular officials they planned to stay at Trump International Hotel in Honolulu when really they would spend three months at an apartment in Irvine, California to give birth. U.S. authorities said the businesses not only engaged in fraud but have created a national security risk.  Their customers some who work for the Chinese government have secured American citizenship for children who can later move back to the United States, and once theyre 21 years old, sponsor their parents for green cards. I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability, said Mark Zito, assistant special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcements homeland security investigations in Los Angeles.  Are some of them doing it for security because the United States is more stable? Absolutely. But will those governments take advantage of this? Yes, they will. It marks the first time the United States has criminally prosecuted birth tourism operators  The phenomenon of birth tourism is nothing new. The businesses have long operated in California and other states and cater to well to do couples from China, Russia, Nigeria and Turkey.  In the past, birth tourism operators sometimes ran into trouble with local code enforcement officials when neighbors in residential areas complained about crowding or excess trash, but they didnt face federal scrutiny. In 2015, federal agents raided roughly three dozen sites connected with birth tourism in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.  More than 20 people were designated material witnesses to the cases but some later fled back to China and were charged with violating federal court orders, and an immigration lawyer who helped them leave the country was convicted of obstruction of justice. Federal Agents serve warrants and question several residents at an apartment complex in Rowland Heights while investigating alleged birth tourism centers March 3, 2015 The anchor baby businesses touted the benefits of having American citizen babies and had women hide their pregnancies This week, a federal grand jury indicted four people who were accused of running the three birth tourism businesses until the 2015 stings.  The company You Win USA dated at least to 2010 but advertised having brought 8,000 women to the United States half of them from China since it claimed to have been started in 1999. Federal officials said each company brought hundreds of customers to give birth in the United States.  In one of the cases, authorities outlined in court filings how wealthy Chinese couples paid You Win USA between dollar 40,000 and dollar 80,000 to travel to apartments in Irvine, California, to deliver their babies. In one instance, a couple paid the indigent rate for hospital bills a total of dollar 4,080 even though they had more than dollar 225,000 in a US bank account they had used to shop at luxury stores including Louis Vuitton and Rolex. Treported that Li, an executive at You Win USA, was paid dollar 1.5million in wire transfers from China in 2013 and 2014, which enabled her to buy a house in Irvine for dollar 2.1million and a dollar 118,000 Mercedes Benz, according to her indictment. During the investigation, federal authorities seized Lis home, six cars, more than dollar 1million from banks accounts, as well as gold bars and coins. The comments below have been moderated in advance. By posting your comment you agree to our . Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline? Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual. Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline? 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