Agence France-Presse

Canada looking to close anchor-baby loopholes

The Canadian government is contemplating changes to its immigration policy after newspaper reports showed Chinese women are flying into the country to have "anchor babies."
Credit: China Photos

The Canadian government is contemplating restrictions on birth tourism after a Chinese newspaper reported women there are using Canada to evade their country’s one-child policy and exploit Canadian immigration laws.

Because Canada gives anyone born in the country a passport, foreign parents can also use their “anchor baby” to bypass immigration laws.

The recent Chinese newspaper report said “consultants” coach Chinese women how to wear baggy clothing when they arrive in Canada and carry nothing that shows they are expecting.

They might also learn how to apply for permits or even student visas.

About 200 “anchor babies” are born in Canada every year.

“We are aware of crooked consultants who encourage pregnant women to illegally travel to Canada to give birth and gain access to Canada’s considerable benefits,” Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Candice Malcolm told Postmedia News. “We condemn the practice of circumventing our laws to game the system, leaving Canadians taxpayers with the bill. This is unfair and not right.”

The government is considering introducing changes within the year.

The Toronto Sun discovered numerous homes in Vancouver that act as “havens” for Chinese women, charging them about $70 per day until they give birth.

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The Sun sent an undercover reporter to the home seeking information for relatives from China.

The woman who answered the door denied running a “passport baby” office.

“I only promise myself to do legal thing. That’s all,” the woman, named Susan, said through a Chinese translator. “Other people are not my business. I won’t give comments.”

Most of the women who use the services in Canada are wealthy Chinese women looking to get around that country’s one-child policy, the Sun said.
Canada and the United States are the only countries in the world that give babies born there passports.

In 2008, about 340,000 babies born in the US had at least one illegal immigrant parent, MSNBC reported.

Only about 120 per year came from China, however, MSNBC said.

It also happens in Hong Kong, where mainland Chinese couples pay consultants about $3,200 to help them give birth in the former British colony.

“We work like a travel agency,” Gordon Li told MSNBC. “The fee depends on the client – whether they want to stay in a luxury hotel or a small hotel, etc.”

At least one Canadian immigration expert warned against changes.

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said any changes could change how Canadians parents apply for passports for their children.

“There are a couple of hundred passport babies born annually in Canada out of our 200 million visits per year,” he said. “To clamp down on those several hundred, the government is going to require Canadians to re-apply for their Canadian citizenship to get a passport. ... That won’t do away with a couple of hundred passport babies a year, but it will do away with the privacy of 33 million Canadians.”

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