27 Aug 2013

Concern birth tourism to CNMI poses health risks

1:24 pm on 27 August 2013

The president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Alex Sablan, says he believes the practice of women coming to the Northern Marianas to give birth should be highly discouraged.

There are concerns hundreds of pregnant Chinese tourists have travelled to Saipan in recent years to give birth, reportedly so the child would automatically qualify for US citizenship.

Recently the CNMI delegate to the US Congress, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, warned that birth tourism could put at risk the U.S. visa waiver programme for tourists from China and Russia.

Mr Sablan says the practice should be deterred because of the health and safety risks.

"There is absolute real reasons why they have not allowed women who are in their third trimester onto planes, it's a very dangerous venture and so you know there's huge liabilities from many people across the board here and I just believe that this should be discouraged at the origin country."

Alex Sablan.

Visa waivers introduced in 2009 mean tourists from China and Russia can enter and stay in the CNMI for up to 45 days without needing a U.S. visa.