Growing trend has Chinese women coming to San Diego to give birth

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SAN DIEGO - The controversial underground industry of birth tourism has been growing over the last 6 months in San Diego.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls,” said Jacob Sapochnick, Immigration Attorney. “It's been around for the past five years, mostly in Los Angeles and the East Coast, but now we're starting to see it in San Diego."

U.S. baby births are a big business, especially in China. On the website usbabydiy.com, there are pages and pages of advertisements for birth centers, many of them found in San Diego. The ads offer room and board for several months, including, services for/after pregnancy and tout the best medical care money can buy.

“The behind it is have your baby in the U.S. the baby will become a US citizen,” said Sapochnick. “Having a baby here, there’s nothing illegal about it. It’s just people are making it into a profit industry.”

Sapochnick said baby brokers can charge anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 per family.

“Most of them are very, very wealthy people, they come with bank statements with millions of dollars.

Having a baby in the U.S. may not be illegal, but, the business surrounding birth tourism has raised criminal concern.

Two years ago in the Los Angeles area, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officers busted a major maternity tourism scheme. The case involved suspected VISA and tax fraud.

FOX 5 spoke with San Diego immigration officials and we were told agents are not aware of similar fraud case that resulted in criminal charges in the San Diego area.

Sapochnick said he hears plenty about fraud, but they are stories ICE will not be hearing anytime soon.

“Many of them have been coached to say, 'I can’t have my baby in China,'” said Sapochnick. “My baby is premature, my baby has Down syndrome or my baby has this or that, and then they get a medical VISA to come to the U.S.

FOX 5 met a woman at a local Chinese grocer who said she was from China and her baby was born in San Diego. When we asked if she came here to have her baby, she told us no. However, any further questions were met with silence.

Sapochnick said in addition to securing citizenship, when the child turns 21, he or she can in return sponsor his or her family to come to the United States.