Pregnant Chinese tourist stopped at Saipan airport, sent back to Shanghai
A pregnant tourist was stopped by federal agents at the Francisco C.
A pregnant tourist was stopped by federal agents at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport early Sunday morning and was ordered to go back to Shanghai early Monday morning, allegedly on suspicion that she would engage in so-called “birth tourism” or travel for the purpose of giving birth to an automatic U.S. citizen child in the CNMI or any U.S. area, Saipan Tribune reports.
Through a translator, the tour leader said in an interview yesterday afternoon that she personally asked the pregnant woman back in Shanghai to consider not boarding the chartered Sichuan Airlines plane bound for Saipan for her own safety and to avoid being questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Saipan airport.
“She refused to listen. She boarded the flight from Shanghai 10:30pm Saturday and arrived on Saipan around 5am Sunday,” Shanghai-based tour leader Fenny He told Saipan Tribune.
The tour leader, who has been with the travel industry for eight years in different routes, identified the passenger that she said was denied entry by CBP agents as Yu Yan Hu. She said the woman is in her 40s.
The tour leader said this is not the first time that she reminded visibly pregnant tourists in Shanghai to reconsider boarding the plane to Saipan for their safety and welfare. She said the women didn’t board the plane.
“But first time that a woman refused to listen and boarded the plane. At the immigration counter on Saipan, CBP officer saw her and asked another CBP officer to escort her for secondary inspection. We learned she’s not allowed to enter Saipan and asked to board the flight back to Shanghai early morning Monday,” the tour leader said.
She added that the pregnant tourist was with a male companion, possibly her husband.
The tour leader said the pregnant woman bought a roundtrip ticket from her company, but she doesn’t know where the tourist and her companion were planning to stay on Saipan.
“The ticket is for six days travel to and from Saipan. It’s about $900 roundtrip. The flight between Shanghai and Saipan is four-and-a-half hours,” the tour leader said.
In 2009, DHS granted U.S. visa waivers for Chinese and Russian tourists visiting the CNMI. This means Chinese and Russian tourists can enter and stay in the CNMI for up to 45 days without a need to obtain a U.S. visa.
The tour leader said she thinks she did her best to remind their client-tourists before they even board the plane in Shanghai.
She said tour companies are aware of the birth tourism issue in the CNMI and they have been doing their best to help prevent abuses of the visa waiver program.
“But it’s very hard to prevent women from traveling because sometimes you can’t tell whether they’re pregnant or if they are coming here only to give birth. Travel agents do not want to lose their job, they also do not want to jeopardize travel industry business if there is no longer visa waiver. If they don’t help, the visa waiver program could end and everybody suffers because CNMI would lose its advantage over Guam and Hawaii,” the tour leader said.
It was not immediately known whether the tourist was able to depart Saipan for Shanghai early Monday morning.