The city of Chino Hills is taking a so-called maternity hotel to court over zoning issues. Neighbors want the city to shut down the business, which offers pregnant women from China a place to give birth, thus providing a path to U.S. citizenship for their children. Jacob Rascon reports from Chino Hills for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2012.
Vacation packages to Southern California are far from unusual, but some of the ones offered by a Chinese website are exclusively for pregnant women from China who want to give birth in Chino Hills, making their children U.S. citizens.
"They're having their babies and going back to their country, so essentially they're buying their citizenship," said attorney Rosanna Mitchell.
Women pay up to $15,000 for maternity packages from www.asiamchild.com, which tells visitors and potential customers they will not get deported for using the service. The website notes the benefits of U.S. citizenship, mentioning assets like welfare, free public education and access to student loans.
Mitchell, a Chino Hills-based attorney, helped create a grassroots movement against what has been dubbed a maternity hotel, an illegal but nationwide phenomenon, according to Mitchell.
The city of Chino Hills is taking the business to court over zoning issues, such as operating a hotel in a residential area.
Tuesday, in a neighborhood guarded by gates and cameras, residents who wished to remain anonymous said they had identified a second maternity hotel, about a mile from the first. Officials were looking into the report.
Neighbors said dozens of pregnant Chinese women appeared in their neighborhood starting in March.
"Women being transported in luxurious cars," neighbor Tracey Guzman said.
"From our point of view, it's a moral issue," said neighbor Steve Vincent. "It seems people are able to purchase U.S. citizenship.