&#91EDITORIALS&#93Birthing pains

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[EDITORIALS]Birthing pains

It has finally happened. Ten Korean women who gave birth at a childbirth center in Los Angeles’ Koreatown were detained and questioned by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement because they had misdeclared their reasons for entering the United States. This is an embarrassing and lamentable happening.
Moreover, overseas travel to give birth, which began among wealthy couples, has now spread to the middle class. They are taking advantage of a U.S. law that gives American citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. The first such expeditions began about six years ago by a few wealthy mothers-to-be, and there were about 5,000 cases last year. This year through August, the number hit 7,000.
And it’s not only U.S. passports that are involved. Pregnant women are flying to Canada and Australia as well. In some areas, hospitals have interpreters and Korean guides to assist women who do not speak English.
This kind of “twisted maternity,” spending $20,000 to give birth abroad and get a foreign passport, is a manifestation of selfishness that seeks the best of two worlds. Those who give birth overseas want to live in Korea and get the educational, tax and medical insurance benefits available here for their children so they can opt for U.S. citizenship when they turn 18 and escape military service.
With the recent boom in schooling abroad, the parents of U.S.-citizen children find that they can attend public schools in the United States cheaply and can eventually invite their parents to immigrate there to join them. That makes having a child overseas a profitable venture.
Overseas births not only crush the national pride of Koreans, but also damage our international image. It seems apparent that the visa process for expectant mothers and Koreans in general will become more complicated.
The world is an open place. There is no reason or obligation for Koreans to live in Korea only. But fair legal processes should be used. If one does not wish to live in Korea, emigrate legally.
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