Thousands of Canadians have endorsed an electronic petition requesting the government to restrict automatic citizenship rights for babies born in Canada to foreigners to check what is being termed as “birth tourism.”
The petition was presented in Parliament by Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Alice Wong earlier this week
Canada is one of only two developed countries which has not introduced to terminate automatic citizenship due to “widespread abuse.”
The other being U.S., where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has controversially asked for an end to “anchor babies.”
However the issue of “birth tourism” is blazing up in other countries as well. Birthright citizenship is not possible in the UK, but British Prime Minister Theresa May lately recommended instituting passport checks on pregnant women at hospitals to crack down on the growing number traveling from other countries to take advantage of free hospital services.
The 8,886 signatories want to transform Canada’s birthright citizenship law they suggest “enables an abusive and exploitative practice” where “expectant mothers who are foreign nationals with no status in Canada can gain automatic citizenship for their children born in Canada.”
Wong informs the issue is “significant” in her riding of Richmond Centre, along with other large cities such as Toronto and Montreal.
She said “birth houses,” which are sometimes termed “maternity motels,” has become a problem, working as temporary lodging for pregnant women from other countries. Some are expecting to qualify for health insurance, while others fund for the hospital services themselves, Wong said.
“Immigration and our diversity are what makes Canada unique. It is also important to preserve the integrity of our immigration system and guarantee that new Canadians join our country in a way that is fair,”
Kerry Starchuk, a resident of Richmond, B.C. who started the petition, said Canadian citizenship should be automatic when neither parent holds any standing or ties to the country.
She stated she became conscious of the issue after seeing a residence next door to her was housing a “revolving door” of pregnant women.
She understands there is a growing hidden economy where commercial enterprises help bring over and support women from other countries to give birth in Canada.
“Nothing’s right about it,” she said. “It needs to end or more, and more people will take advantage of the loophole.”
The government has 45 days to respond to the petition formally.
The Immigration Ministry does not collect data related to this issue, informs Camille Edwards, spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum