Years after savage attack on newborns, birth tourism schemes thrive in NYC

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Three years after a deranged nanny savagely stabbed three babies in a Queens “birthing center,” the assailant will not face trial – and the unregulated, makeshift maternity wards for foreign women have only multiplied in New York City.

Some immigration experts call the “birth tourism” industry that supports these baby businesses a national security threat, as they aggressively promote themselves overseas as places for mothers to give birth to instant American citizens.

Yu Fen Wang was working as a nanny at the Meibao Birthing Care Center in Flushing on Sept. 21, 2018 when she attacked three newborns, along with two adults, while screaming she was trying to kill wolves.

Wang “was found to be not responsible due to mental disease or defect and was committed to a mental health facility” on Nov. 20, a Queens DA spokeswoman told the The Post.

All five victims in the bloody rampage survived. But baby Chloe Cao, then only days old and a New York City resident, has scars and nerve damage from the attack, according to family attorney Kenny Jiang. The two other babies and their families reportedly went back to China.

The Cao family has since filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Meibao Center’s operators, Xuexin Lin and Meiying Gao. The lawsuit remains active, and is pending the return of civil court judges on May 24. Their babycare center, now closed, was shoehorned into a three-family home in a residential neighborhood.

The attack opened a window into New York City’s thriving underground baby tourism industry, where moms-to-be visit the United States, often with immigration and paperwork assistance from one of these services, give birth in an American hospital, often on the taxpayer dime, and then spend weeks in recovery at one of these types of maternity centers. Often the facility is no more than a bedroom or partitioned space in a private home. The moms soon return home with their baby, a legitimate American citizen.

Shockingly, the 2018 bloodbath apparently did little to dissuade foreign nationals from continuing to flood these NYC centers, or to prompt local pols and agencies to begin cracking down on, or regulating, them.

The Post recently found ads for more than 80 local centers, most clustered in Flushing, advertised in Chinese-language media, A visit to several of the advertised addresses revealed each one to be in a private home.

A search of the phrase “going to the USA to give birth to a baby” last week on Chinese search engine Baidu yielded 6.3 million results.

The birthing businesses appear to be unlicensed and unregulated, and they falsely advertise overseas and on foreign websites by trumpeting deeply ingrained traditions of postnatal care. In Chinese and other cultures, relatives, friends or hired women often care for a baby in its first month of life while the mother recuperates.

“The New York Angel Baby Birthing Center … has been officially registered and certified by the U.S. government and operated in a personalized, scientific and professional manner,” reads one ad on a Chinese-language website. “As long as you have a U.S. visa, let us do the rest in realizing your dreams.”

Another reads: “Cross East U.S. Maternity Service Center provides a full range of U.S. childbirth services, allowing you to easily have an American baby with a higher starting point in life and more choices in the future … everything is governed by relevant U.S. laws. As long as you have a U.S. visa, you can leave everything else to us.”

Families, according to some online ads, are promised help with everything from the immigration processing to health care for their baby from a government-regulated medical facility.

“Our team will provide you with a full service from visa preparation to safe return to China, covering life, medical treatment and legal aspects,” reads one ad for the Ankang facility listed at 48-33 192nd St. in Queens.

Famiies often pay six figures for month-long stays at the centers.

The Post confronted nearly a dozen of the centers, and visited six of them, but inquiries were met with silence or denials. It is not clear if these facilities provide any other legitimate services.

The private maternity centers in Flushing are largely clustered around New York Presbyterian Hospital on Main Street in Queens and the ads often promote the proximity of health care facilities. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.

Birth tourism is “immigration fraud, a burden on the American taxpayer and a national security risk,” Marguerite Telford, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C., told The Post.

“I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mark Zito told reporters following the 2019 indictment of a Southern California birth tourism ring, saying he fears hostile governments will use the access of American citizens within their midst to “take advantage” of the U.S.

“Birth tourism can create U.S. citizens who … don’t necessarily share our values and may have allegiances to countries of concern, [who] can nonetheless return to the United States as adults with their U.S. passports in hand,” said Jon Feere, former chief of staff for ICE.

One immigration expert said that many “birth tourists” who have their babies in the United States are wealthy and connected with the Communist party.

No state or local agency contacted by The Post accepted responsibility for the fly-by-night babycare business.

The city Administration for Children’s Services said it does not license or regulate childcare facilities and directed The Post to the NYPD. The NYPD referred immigration issues to the “appropriate agency.” The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection said it had no jurisdiction. The city Health Department pointed to Albany. The state Health Department said it “has regulatory oversight of licensed health care facilities, such as hospitals … not places involved in ‘birth tourism.’”

Local elected officials who publicly demanded an investigation and reforms in the immediate aftermath of the attack, have also failed to act.

“Once we have the facts, my colleagues and I will work very closely to close any loopholes in the system to make sure that we will never see this kind of ugliness in our community again,” Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim said at the time.

Kim did not respond to more than a half dozen messages seeking comment. City Councilman Peter Koo also did not respond to repeated messages.

Kim told one local outlet at the time that a crackdown on similar “unsafe” facilities in Los Angeles “spurred a new market in places like Queens and Long Island.”

The feds in 2015 dismantled a group of maternity centers in California and then in 2019 charged 19 individuals with running a birth tourism ring that catered to wealthy Chinese women seeking U.S. citizenship for their babies.

One of the defendants in that case, Dongyuan Li, paid cash for a $2.1 million home in Irvine, Calif. and for a $118,000 Mercedes, according to the indictment. She has since pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of visa fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who represents Flushing, said days after the attack that she would pursue legislation, if needed, to prevent similar incidents.

But she recently told The Post that there will likely be no state action, that it’s an issue for city agencies and federal immigration officials.

“This medical tourism, maternity tourism, is very common in the Asian community, even for locals,” said Stavisky. “The certificate of occupancy, this is where the city can step in and perhaps check in on some of these things. Locally, the zoning laws are very lax.”

The city Buildings Department lists nearly a dozen services not allowed as home businesses, but child care is not among them. The City Planning Department, which oversees zoning issues such as commercial enterprises operating in residential areas, did not return messages.

Babies born in the United States are American citizens according to the 14th Amendment, a status coveted by many foreigners for the access it provides to education, health care, employment and other opportunities, sometimes funded by taxpayers.

The children enjoy U.S. citizenship even if they quickly return to their mother’s homeland and grow up overseas. These American-born children can then fast-track family members to become U.S. citizens once they reach adulthood, said Telford from the Center for Immigration Studies.

“American citizenship is still the most desirable thing in the world,” said Jiang, the attorney representing Baby Chloe and her family. “The scale of the problem is just amazing.”

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates 33,000 babies are born to women on tourist visas each year, while hundreds of thousands more babies are born to illegal aliens or mothers holding temporary visas.

Telford said the mothers commit fraud by visiting the U.S. on a tourist visa for the unstated purpose of having a baby.

“Tourists who come to the United States to give birth and receive taxpayer-funded public assistance to cover the associated costs of their births or have the expenses waived by a hospital do not have to pay back any of the funds in order to get a future tourist visa,” reports the CIS.

A 2015 study of birth tourism by Dr. Michel Mikhael of Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., found that its babies had longer hospital stays, required more surgical intervention and cost more than twice as much as U.S. resident births.

The Trump administration in early 2020, in the wake of crackdown on these facilities in California, directed immigration officials to deny women visas if they determined the expectant mothers were coming to the United States solely to give birth.

And Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in January introduced a bill that would make it illegal to visit the United States for the purposes of having a baby. She said, “American citizenship should not be for sale.”

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