A New York hotel is staking its claim to have invented a new hospitality niche ? birth tourism. The Marmara Manhattan offers â€œan exclusive package for new mothers that wish to give birth in the USAâ€, with the additional bonus of the newborn child gaining US citizenship.
The hotel, which is part of the Turkish hospitality chain, exploits the 14th amendment to the US constitution, which states that all children born on American soil â€œare citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they resideâ€.
The Marmara Manhattan, which is located in New Yorkâ€™s Upper East Side, told The Times: â€œWhat we offer is simply a one-bedroom suite accommodation for $5,100, plus taxes, for a month, with airport transfer, baby cradle and a gift set for the mother.â€ There are also medical fees of about Â£20,500.
However the price is a cheap and easy one to pay for US citizenship. Many will eventually use the newborn – known as an â€œanchor babyâ€ – as a stepping stone for the immigration of extended family.
The hotel has so far sold 15 of the packages.
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the practice is entirely legal as long as the women can pay their medical bills.
However there are noises being made in Washington to close the loophole.
Gary Miller, a Republican congressman, told The Times: â€œThey come to this country and have babies. The children are citizens. The children are eligible to go to school.
They receive food stamps and social programmes. The American taxpayers are paying for it.
Key source markets include Hong Kong, South Korea and Turkey, where a number of travel agencies specialise in the birth tourism market.
â€œMany people say they are doing it because they want their kids to get a cheaper education and not deal with visa issues when they grow up,â€ said Levant Bas, of the Istanbul-based operator Gurib Tourism. â€œWe have a package that covers everything from the flight and city tours to accommodation for several months and hospital expenses.