New Trump Administration Policy Attempts to Turn Consular Officers into Pregnancy Police and Creates a Back-Door Health Care Ban

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) objects to a new policy intended to combat “birth tourism.” The policy will not only have consequences for women but is written in a way that could impact all B visa applicants with health issues. The following is a statement from AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson:

“We recognize that there are legitimate concerns about people potentially violating our visa laws in order to obtain citizenship for their children, but this rule is a dangerous overreach rather than a practical solution. This rule not only wrongfully presumes that any pregnant woman traveling to this country is actually coming to surreptitiously obtain citizenship for a child, but could be used to prevent any woman of childbearing age from being able to obtain a visitor visa to the U.S. In effect, this is likely to severely impact the ability of foreign women to conduct business in the US, among other permissible activities.

“Consular officers can’t possibly be expected to know whether a woman is pregnant or may become pregnant during the validity period of a B visa and the possibility that women may be requested to take pregnancy tests, or feel pressure to do so is abhorrent. B visas can be issued with up to a 10-year validity period, which raises the concern that women of childbearing age might be unable to receive visas valid longer than 9 months on the off chance they might become pregnant. Simply put, the administration is denying equal protection to women and discriminating against pregnant women. This new policy adds pregnant women and women who might become pregnant to a growing list of individuals unwelcome to the United States by the Trump administration.

“In addition, this rule adds a requirement that every visa applicant seeking medical care in the US must prove that a hospital or medical organization has accepted the applicant as a patient, and that the applicant has the means to pay for the medical costs. This applies to every applicant, regardless of gender or age. This new policy appears to be a backdoor attempt to enforce the president’s health insurance proclamation of October 4, 2019, despite the fact that a District Court has enjoined the implementation of that proclamation. Given the limited information provided in the rule and the failure to provide sufficient notice and comment to the public, litigation is almost certainly on the horizon.”

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20013037.