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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  WHUT  August 8, 2013 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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birth in the u.s. so, most women hide their pregnancies or get their visas before their pregnancies start to show. the 14th amendment to the u.s. constitution was approved by congress just after the civil war primarily to guarantee citizenship for african-americans. it declares, in part, all persons born or naturalized in the united states and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the united states. whether that includes children of foreign parents is in dispute due to a legal debate over the meaning of "jurisdiction." despite that, it is being used by a growing number of foreign women to deliver here. in 2000, the centers for disease control and prevention reported that more than 5,000 infants were born here to foreign mothers. in 2008, the latest year for which data are available, the number was just fewer than
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7,500, but many say those numbers are woefully underreported. here's how birth tourism works. brokers advertise, offering package deals to women who want to have their newborns become u.s. citizens. these women are often accompanied by their husbands, who are an integral part of the planning process. janan tashi reports for the inland valley daily bulletton and covering the ballooning trend as more women arrive to give birth in southern california. >> this is kind of a birthing package where everything is pre-set up for you and everything from where you're going to stay, where you're going to go while you are here, if you're doing any vacationing while you're here, visiting your doctors' offices, whether having a natural birth or a c-section, and all of your meals are included, and that price tag has been reported to be about $100,000. >> the women stay in what are
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called birthing centers or maternity hotels. they are advertised as luxury hotels or high-end housing. >> this is another area in the web site where it actually kind of tells you what the facilities to the birthing -- the maternity hotels look like and you can see some of them have pools. >> when the women arrive, they find few are luxurious and most are just cut-up single-family homes or apartment complexes. the birthing centers are scattered nationwide, with many in new york and southern california. this birthing center is located inchino hills, california, just east of los angeles, soaped as a single-family home with four bathrooms, but it was subdivided into 17 bathrooms and 17 bathrooms, a clear violation of california building and zoning laws. >> a lot of changes to the home
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were done without permits and this is against code enforcement law. more importantly, the city had an issue with the fact that they were operating a to he out of a residential home and that is against code enforcement rules. >> bonnie erbe: after seeing a lot of activity in the area and large groups of pregnant women walking around, neighbors started to question what was going on. >> at first, we were, like, maybe it's like human sex trafficking or something really weird is going on around it's not right. >> bonnie erbe: then they learned the house was being used as a maternity hotel. >> on an ethical level, i think it's very concerning. it's not very american. you know, as an immigrant myself, i came over here when i was eight years old. my father came first, left our entire family, worked two jobs, earned enough money to send money to get visas for our family, came over here. we're all citizens now. we're very proud to be americans
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and we worked really hard at it. essentially, this birth tourism, it's like buying citizenship. >> bonnie erbe: rosanna mitchell is the leader of "not in chino hills." >> not here! not anywhere! not here, not anywhere! >> if you come here, you can buy citizenship, $10,000 a month, essentially if you come, have your baby here and go back to your country. >> bonnie erbe: homeowners protested after seeing cars and vans driving through their neighborhood and groups of pregnant chinese women walking around. finally, a septic tank overflowed down the hill. >> the sewage was coming down the hill on the left side of these homes over here and it's coming from the home itself, and the smell was apparently horrendous. >> bonnie erbe: jim gallagher also protested, since he lives in the neighborhood and was affected by the sewage overflow. >> i never thought this could happen here. at the same time, i do believe
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they think that we would just roll over. that we're a sleepy community and we would do nothing about this. >> it was very weird and surreal because why would this happen here in but the traffic going up and down, all the women coming and going and -- >> the fact of the matter is the chino hills residents are not willing to take this lying down. chino hills residents stood their ground, we called attention to city officials about this, we call attention to the property owner that we weren't going to stand for this. >> you know, today, it's chino hills, it's corona eastville, roland heights, tomorrow it's going to be all of southern california. >> bonnie erbe: even members to have the chinese american association of chino hills are against birth tourism. >> i feel it's -- it's not right, and i think i did whatever necessary to get my citizenship from beginning until now, and i think that's the
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right process to do it. >> i have a soft spot for those people who want to come to the united states because, like myself, i came from outside the united states. but i went through the legal channels, the right way of doing it. it's not the fault of those pregnant women. any parent would like to have the children have a better life. there's nothing wrong with that. now, this business of maternity hotels, it's exploiting the constitution of the united states. >> bonnie erbe: the protest, media attention and scores of complaints led the l.a. security council.a. securitycouncil to t. >> we've received complaints from neighbors who were low key because they were afraid because there's been intimidation in neighborhoods. we've had, i think, 7 72
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complaints, complaints being someone saying, hey, i think it's going on in my neighborhood or they see a group walking in the park and they all happen to be pregnant. >> bonnie erbe: birth tourism violates the spirit but not the letter of the law. owners were punished with relatively inconsequential zoning violations. local officials want to pass laws to give them the power to shut down birthing centers and collect taxes that are not being paid. >> obviously, the tax issue would be a huge benefit to everyone. people at this end of town or the area that might not be reporting the cash payments they get to perform. all those kind of issues. so that's a huge cost. neighbors started complaining about bloody sheets, afterbirth and all of the kinds of things they have been dealing with they have been afraid to say anything about. what we don't know is what we don't know. the problem is these mothers would have no way of knowing whether they're receiving a legitimate birth certificate. we don't know if there's been any deaths or injuries because of this.
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>> bonnie erbe: opposition to birth tourism, both by public officials and people who live nearby these operations, is not just based on lost taxpayer revenue or public nuisances. we learned that there is also a huge concern about the health and safety of the women who come here to have their children and the infants they bear. >> the real issue is the public health issues we're trying to avoid the complications to make sure the babies and mothers are in good healthy conditions because, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. >> bonnie erbe: in fact, the brokers create major health hazards and cheat the california out of taxes they should pay since they are doing business here. daniel dan is a lawyer who represents women who have gone through birth tourism brokers and they're now suing them. he says many of the women are being scammed in several ways.
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>> they enjoy a good health system, healthcare service from the united states, and many mothers are complaining because when they come over here, they were showing that one woman should have one room and one care take taking care of the baby, but when they come over here, once the baby is delivered, they have ten babies. they're crying every night, and only one caretaker to take care of ten mothers and all ten babies. >> he says one healthcare worker was so overworked, she dropped the baby and the baby died. then there are concerns over what the brokers represent and deliver. >> there are so many brokers in china competing for the business, so when they first came over here, it turned out that the living conditions are not what they promised in china. frankly, many of those brokers in china, they've never been to
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the united states, so they would present a misperception and they would get a five-star hotel foe photos and say you're going to stay here or a five-star hospital, here's what you're going to get. >> bonnie erbe: instead, what these women are getting are apartments such as these. he as well as nearby residents blame the birth center operators. >> it's definitely the people who are running the business who should be put the blame on, definitely, because they're reaping the benefits, essentially making a lot of money off these women. they're exploiting them, the way i see it. some of these poor women come over here thinking they're going to be taken care of and everything is substandard. that's why elected officials need to step up to the plate because we're not just dealing with illegal business, we're dealing with human life, these poor babies perhaps born in substandard care. >> bonnie erbe: california taxpayers are also apparently being scammed.
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operators of maternity hotels promise private doctors and private hospitals and charge the women accordingly. instead, when the women arrive in the u.s., brokers take advantage of the fact they don't speak english. they trick the women into signing applications for state assistance called "access for infants and mothers," and that's illegal. the lawyer says some of the women have actually been charged with fraud. >> when the mother was delivering her baby, the broker, the operator here would ask her to fill out the form, claiming that the mother is a california resident. many of the foreign tourists that come over here, they don't speak english and they just sign all the papers. in their mind, it's necessary paper to get the service rendered. so once they sign the paper, lo and behold, those are the papers
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for the program. i have been advocating in the chinese community and the chinese authority that you have to have the broker, force advertising and get bonds and make sure they have a channel to complain. when they come back to china, they complain, this broker is a crook and they should have some kind of recourse from china but, at the same time, if we cannot stop them from coming over here, how are we going to regulate it and make sure the women coming here getting healthcare and make sure our taxpayers are not footing the bill and our system is not being taken advantage of. >> bonnie erbe: there are many reasons why women want to deliver on u.s. soil. not only do they believe our healthcare system is better, they believe, as parents, they are protected from political persecution if they have a u.s. citizen in the family. >> american consulate, american
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ambassador, they're very aggressive in protecting their citizens, so, when a country enters an american embassy, they will be the first one to rescue their own residents. >> bonnie erbe: they also want to take advantage of better, less expensive educational opportunities for their children. but whether birth tourism is hurting or helping the u.s. economy is an unanswered question. >> it's been a mixed reaction. i mean, there are some readers who have said, well, this is what makes america and it's a melting pot and why shouldn't somebody from overseas come in and try to get a u.s. citizenship? good for us in america for being a country people want to ben. other readers call and say, how dare they? they are taking advantage of the 14th amendment and taking --
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they're finding a loophole in the system to become american citizens and shame on them for trying to do so. >> bonnie erbe: birth tourism is hardly new. in fact, it's been going on for decades. we're about to introduce you to a young woman who was born in the u.s. while her mother was here on a tourist visa and just graduated from the university of california at davis. meet 23-year-old jennifer chi. she looks and acts like any student but jennifer's different, her taiwanees mother gave birth to her in new york city while on a tourism visa making jennifer a u.s. citizen. why did your parents decide to time it so you were born in new york? >> my grandma and uncle were in new york, already, and my mom was visiting them and that's why she decided to have me because
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my grandmother can take care of me. they felt like there was a lot more opportunity here in terms of jobs. she took me back when i was three months old to taiwan. >> bonnie erbe: jennifer lived in taiwan for the next 15 years. so you grew up thinking you were taiwanees? >> yes, even though on the card it says i was born in new york. people make fun of my and say you're a new yorker and stuff and i didn't speak the language. >> bonnie erbe: one day, when jennifer was 15, jennifer's parents told her she was moving to the u.s. to go to school. so when your parents told you you were moving to the united states, how did they tell you? >> i was kind of sad when they told me i had to come here for high school because all my friends were in taiwan and it was a new environment, and i was
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never really in tune with that. i kind of just did what they told me to do, just followed what they wanted me to do. >> bonnie erbe: she landed in utah, living with a family friend. it was a tough time for her. >> yeah, i didn't speak any english before i came here. i was really scared because i was actually the only asian in school. so i had, like, no one to talk to and i had to force myself to learn the language as soon as possible so i could communicate and talk to friends, make friends. >> bonnie erbe: jennifer's dad joined her. the next move was to idaho. her parents then decided if jennifer lived in california, she could get a good education and pay in-state tuition rates. that saved her family almost $23,000 a year for four years. but many believe it is the taxpayers of california or any
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state where a birth tourism baby ends up going to school who have to make up the difference. >> i believe i got a better education here in america because -- i don't know, i just feel there's more -- it's not just about taking classes. you know, there's after-school programs, you can be on the sports team, play volleyball, and that helps a lot with my education. like, instead of just going to school for 12 hours in taiwan, yeah, i feel like that helps a lot. it helps my life because definitely more opportunity, more john opportunity. >> bonnie erbe: what do other students think of jennifer's story? >> they're competing with a lot of other students who really need the in-state tuition and, as somebody who receives a lot of financial aid for coming over here, i don't know, i wouldn't want to see that personally taken away from me because
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somebody else is coming over. >> people are just using tourism as a means to, you know, have a kid here, i can't say i blame them because they are going to get a better life, but, i mean, it is still illegal to me. >> bonnie erbe: even so, after eight years of living the american dream, jennifer is torn. >> i think i always think i'm more taiwanees than american. i don't know, i grew up in taiwan and i'm so used to the culture and everything, yeah. it's going to be hard for me to consider myself as american. >> bonnie erbe: we found jennifer after she was profiled by reporter richard chang of the sacramento beat. after that story ran, she learned many americans don't support birth tourism and they aren't afraid to say so. >> the commentary was really harsh and harmful, you know,
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jennifer doesn't deserve to live in the state and it's illegal to have her here. it was really harsh, but i feel like -- i don't think me and my mom did anything illegal. like, she came here and -- i just feel like i'm any other immigrant here. they took time to get their green card and visa and came here and moved here, and i feel like america -- this is what america is, it's about diversity. it's really diverse. i can see, like, any face anywhere, yeah. >> bonnie erbe: after graduating, jennifer returned to taiwan for a long visit and landed a job. the attorney told us american-educated asians earn very high salaries when they work for american companies with offices in their homelands, more than they would have made otherwise.
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however, a few months later, she learned she could not stay in the country as a tourist and she had to give up her job and move back to california. what's your goal? where do you see yourself living? >> i would say, find a job, get married. i want to raise my kids in taiwan, yeah, instead of america. i like my situation, i kind of want to raise them in taiwan for about the first ten years and move back to america. i just kind of want them to know the culture i grew up in. >> bonnie erbe: like jennifer's parents, yung bo and his wife have to decide when it is most advantageous to send leo to the united states. he's thinking he'll send leo over after a few years of schooling. but the decision for this family and so many others will be made many times until the child turns
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18. now the baby has just accomplished the first step, which is to obtain american citizenship. the citizenship is just a piece of paper, but to integrate into america is a great process. to integrate into american society and the american masses, to become a real american, this is a very long process. so it is an experiment. maybe, once again, i will become amongst my friends the first person to eat a crab. >> bonnie erbe: that's it for this edition to "to the contrary." please follow me on twitter at bonnie erbe or "to the contrary." check out our web site, web site,pbs.org/ttc web, where the discussion continues. and whether you agree or think to the contrary, please join us
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next time. >> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: the cornell douglas foundation, committed to encouraging stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection, and eliminating harmful chemicals. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation, the
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wallace genetic foundation the e. rhodes and leona b. carpenter foundation, and by the charles a. frueauff foundation. for a transcript or to see an online version of this episode of "to the contrary," visit our pbs web site at www.pbs.org/tothecontrary. being more, pbs.
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♪ - hi, this is bob scully, and welcome to another edition of the world show, our pulitzer laureates series. the experience of war, tragically, has been with mankind since its inception, and just as tragically, we can assume it'll be there as long as we're around. and history of wars, it is said, is written by the victors. but what about someone who decides to take as his central theme the life and times of the vanquished after a great war? this is the central theme of embracing defeat by john dower of mit, a historian who decided to study japan after 1945, after the terrible bombings in hiroshima, nagasaki, and the surrender by the
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emperor, hirohito - decided to study that so totally, so encyclopedically, bottom up and top down, that you really feel as if you're living through those years with the japanese. it is a story that bears reflection and revisiting, because it holds many lessons for different situations today. here is, then, the winner of the pulitzer prize, professor john dower. professor dower, embracing defeat won many prizes, and for good reason, and i'm going to give people just a... i'm going to bookend it with something from the beginning and the end, just to start. so, this is from chapter 3: "even though the united states and japan had been locked in the bitterest of wars, the americans who arrived in tokyo bay might well have come from a different planet. an enormous abyss separated the experience and outlook of victor and vanquished. the americans, brimming with pride and self- righteous confidence, bursting with plans for a golden future, confronted a populace that, in
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the apt phrase of the perceptive observer and scholar tsurumi kazuko, had undergone 'intense socialization for death'." that's way back then. and then as the book ends, you say: "all this is in the air now. no one is certain where japan will land, and no one is murmuring 'number one' anymore. the uncertainty is disquieting, but the lowering of expectations is surely healthy, and yet in other ways sad." and the picture you paint of this country which i didn't know before reading the book - i knew it from clichés - is a country that's had more ups and downs, i think, than anybody, going back to 1853, commodore perry, when they're really a small, primitive place. they develop, then they go the other way, they become very nationalistic, there's the second world war, they're flat out beaten, then they rise again, now they're on a plateau. you have picked a fascinating topic. what got you intested in japan to begin with? - well, what you say, to begin, is very intere

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