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B.C. woman launches petition calling for the end of so-called ‘birth tourism’

A B.C. woman has launched a petition calling on the government to put an end to so-called “birth tourism” which will be presented in the House of Commons in the fall. File photo

A B.C. woman has launched a petition calling on the government to put an end to so-called “birth tourism” which will be presented in the House of Commons in the fall.

Last month, Kerry Starchuk of Richmond launched petition e-397 calling on the Liberal government to “enact legislation which will fully eliminate birthright citizenship in Canada,” or as Starchuk calls it, “jus soli” citizenship.

On the petition, Starchuk describes ‘birth tourism’ as “expectant mothers who are foreign nationals, with no status in Canada, to gain automatic citizenship for their children born within Canada.”

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Starchuk claims some foreign nationals are travelling to Canada to give birth in order to ensure their child has citizenship and access to government services.

In the interview, Starchuk said she has lived in the same home for 28 years and the house next is operating as a “maternity motel for pregnant women from China,” as the newspaper described it.

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“I want neighbours, I don’t want people that are coming and going that have no connection here,” she told the Sun. “I don’t have a problem with a baby, but I have a problem with the long-term consequences.”

Starchuk’s petition, sponsored by Richmond MP Alice Wong, was launched on June 16 and has nearly 5,000 signatures, almost 4,500 more than the required number of signatures needed for the petition to be presented to the House of Commons.

In a statement, Wong said she “was pleased to represent one of her constituents in the process of presenting a petition to Parliament.”

“While a sponsoring Member of Parliament does not have to agree with the opinions or request set out in the petition, this topic affects the constituents of Richmond Centre and MP Alice Wong will be waiting to hear the government’s earliest response,” reads the statement.

According to 2012 numbers from Statistics Canada only 699 babies were born to non-Canadian mothers.

Starchuk’s petition said “the practice of ‘birth tourism’ can be very costly to taxpayers,” and she is calling on the government to “enact legislation which will fully eliminate birthright citizenship in Canada unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.”

Here’s the breakdown of the petition numbers:

Province / Territory Signatures

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Alberta          309
British Columbia      3046
Manitoba      53
New Brunswick     11
Newfoundland and Labrador    13
Northwest Territories     2
Nova Scotia    22
Nunavut     1
Ontario      1208
Prince Edward Island     3
Quebec      153
Saskatchewan     30
Yukon     5
Other Countries    72

This isn’t the B.C. native’s first petition. In 2012, Starchuk and Ann Merdinyan launched a petition calling on Richmond officials to adapt a signage policy because of the lack of English on storefront signs.

The so-called ‘birth tourism’ has been a trend in the U.S. for several years and is gaining momentum in San Diego since January.

Speaking with Fox 5 News, a U.S. immigration attorney told the news station that though the practice is legal, it’s becoming more of an industry in the United States.

“The [idea] behind it is have your baby in the U.S. the baby will become a U.S. citizen,” Jacob Sapochnick said. “Having a baby here, there’s nothing illegal about it. It’s just people are making it into a profit industry.”

The attorney told Fox News that so-called “baby brokers” charge anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 per family.

Websites overseas advertise packages that offer room and board and health services for several months before and after pregnancy, Sapochnick told the news station.

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