A city in California has ordered the shutdown of a “birth-tourism” motel that specifically catered to pregnant Chinese women who travel to the United States to deliver babies and earn them citizenship.
Council members in the city of Orange voted unanimously to revoke the JR Motel’s conditional use permit on Thursday and ordered them to shut down by the end of the month.
The JR Motel does not rent rooms to the public, instead, they only cater to wealthy Chinese families who travel to the states to give birth and take advantage of America’s birthright citizenship.
“Though the practice isn’t illegal, city officials said such long-term residency at the motel fits the category of a boarding or lodging house, and the location, 428 E. Lincoln Avenue, is not zoned for either,” the OC Register reports.
The motel was also in violation of multiple building, fire and safety codes.
“His violations were egregious. And from the get go,” Councilwoman Kim Nichols told the Register.
A lawyer for the motel owner had fought for city council to hold off on making a decision until May so that the owner could attempt to sell the property. The owner, Chi Huang, claims he has several interested buyers, but did not disclose who or where they were from. The register reports that 10 of the rooms are currently occupied by pregnant women from China who cannot travel back now due to the restrictions from the coronavirus. They claim that they are not accepting any new “clients.”
“His client, from 2015 to present, demonstrated very little respect for our law, very little respect for our community, very little respect for the human life of his tenants. And he was focused solely on making money,” Councilman Chip Monaco told his colleagues during a video conference where they made their decision. “Yet Mr. Lu right now is asking us to give his client an opportunity to make money on the back of all the violations we have seen to date.”
“I am in no way interested in helping Mr. Huang capitalize and make money yet again on his poor bad faith behavior in this town. If there was ever a case to revoke a (permit,) if there are any criminal charges we could pursue, I would be completely and 100 % supportive of that,” Monaco said.
California is a popular destination for birth tourism.
“In 2015, federal agents raided homes and apartments across Southern California in a first-of-its-kind raid targeting birth tourism companies. Last December, an Irvine woman was sentenced to a 10-month-prison term, believed to be the first sentence handed to a birth tourism operator helping foreign nationals commit immigration and visa fraud. The woman had already served that time in prison and was released upon sentencing, which included an order of deportation. She didn’t wait to be deported, her attorney said, and left for China in early January,” the Register report concluded.