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Birth Tourism Naturalization and Citizenship

Is Air-Born Baby a U.S. Citizen?

Taiwan_China_Airlines_Birth_AmericaThe BBC and other media recently reported that a woman flying China Airlines from Taipei to Los Angeles on 7 October went into labor and delivered a healthy baby girl with the help of a doctor on board. The plane was diverted to Alaska.

In Taiwan, where the woman is from, the story has been met with scepticism. “Many there have asked how she was able to board a plane so late in her pregnancy, and what her motivations were for doing so,” reports the BBC.

The airline has said it does not allow passengers who are more than 32 weeks into their pregnancy to board without a doctor’s note, but the woman apparently told staff she was in an earlier stage in her pregnancy.

At a legislative meeting in Taiwan, several MPs pressed the government on whether diversion of the plane cost the tax payers money. (The government is the airlines’ majority shareholder.)

It appears that the woman was a “birth tourist.” Reportedly, she repeatedly asked the cabin crew, “Are we in U.S. air space?” Apparently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection wasn’t pleased. She was deported back to Taiwan from the U.S.

The baby remains in the U.S. in the care of a friend. The Immigration Prof Blog confirms that a child born in U.S. airspace would be a U.S. citizen. See 7 FAM 1115 (What Is Birth In U.S. Airspace?) and 7 FAM 1116 (Documenting Birth in U.S. Waters and U.S. Airspace). I’m guessing the airlines may not be too cooperative in giving the mother the captain’s logs to prove it.

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