Selling U.S. citizenship? Arizona hospital markets to Mexican mothers-to-be

Medical tourism usually involves U.S. citizens going abroad to obtain low-cost care for serious conditions. Now one Tucson, Arizona hospital is fighting back by marketing its delivery room to Mexican mothers-to-be. And those who choose to come north to give birth get something extra no other country can offer: U.S. citizenship for their child.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, for almost 30 years hospitals in the Southwest have served expectant mothers from other countries that come here to give birth, taking advantage of the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes anyone born in the U.S. a citizen.

Tucson Medical Center, however, is the first to aggressively market its obstetrics program south of the border. The center does not mention the opportunity for citizenship in its marketing materials, but interested mothers-to-be will no doubt be fully aware of that value-added subtext.

The center has created "birth packages" with options such as shopping excursions and spa stays. The packages are not tailored to the poor; a hospital spokesperson told the Star that some of its customers arrive on private jets. Although the packages aren't cheap (they range from $2,300 to $4,600), how much do you suppose an American citizenship is worth? If we auctioned one off, I'm sure it would sell for many times the cost of a "birth package," based on the value of the economic opportunities alone.

On second thought, maybe citizenship isn't such a great deal for the tot. Today every citizen's share of the national debt is $37,580.65, or 506,154 Mexican pesos.

A lower-cost alternative to the "birth package" took place on the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso last year when a woman in labor managed to cross into U.S. territory just before giving birth. The new citizen was delivered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

I'm fully in favor of immigration; my ancestors moved here from England and I'm damned glad they did. However, I'm not convinced companies should be allowed to use citizenship as a sales tool.

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