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Chino Hills residents oppose 'maternity hotel'

November 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A controversy is growing in a Chino Hills neighborhood: A home has allegedly been turned into a so-called "maternity hotel," drawing pregnant Chinese women to stay and have their babies in America. Neighbors are trying to shut it down.

Residents say they are upset about a business venture operating in an upscale Chino Hills neighborhood. They plan to hold a protest in Chino Hills Saturday to send a message to the house's owner that his business is not welcome.

"I do believe they are taking advantage of a loophole that has been found. Because what I understand after doing my research and homework is that it is an epidemic and it's nationwide," said Chino Hills resident Rossana Mitchell.

They're called "maternity hotels." The seven-bedroom home is owned by Hai Yong Wu. His Chinese language website offers maternity packages ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. The home's address on the website corresponds to the Chino Hills address.

"They're selling U.S. citizenship. They're putting a price on it and they're bringing people over here specifically for that reason," said Chino Hills resident Sandy Hayden.

But it's not illegal. University of California-Riverside Professor Karphick Ramakrishnan says because of the 14th Amendment, children born in the U.S. are granted automatic citizenship.

"The U.S. could pass a law saying that they will not admit someone in the country if their intent is to have a child in the United States," said Ramakrishnan. "Right now there is no law that explicitly says that."

Citizenship isn't the only draw. The website details other advantages, such as access to free education and a path for the parents to becoming permanent U.S. residents when their child turns 21.

"It becomes personal, absolutely, they're taking advantage of this country and we want it to stop," said Chino Hills resident Edward Velazquez.

The city of Chino Hills is aware of the operation and has launched a code enforcement probe.

Last week the city issued Wu a cease-and-desist order for allegedly operating a hotel in a residential neighborhood, which is illegal.


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