Hi Mrs Walker-Huntington:
I'm a Jamaican citizen and was planning on having my baby in the United States (US). However, a friend of mine just told me that a law has been passed that would make it now illegal to do so. Can you please shed some light on the matter?
I anticipate your response. Have a lovely day. Give thanks and may God continue to bless you.
Dear Mrs. Walker-Huntington:
I appreciate reading your advice in the newspaper from time to time, and now I need your guidance.
I travelled to the US for business earlier this year while pregnant. I was 29 weeks pregnant. I was never sick before then, but as soon as I arrived in the US, I started getting swollen feet and high blood pressure problems. My family lives in the states as citizens and green-card holders.
As a single mom and this was going to be my first child, I decided to stay in the US and had my baby there. This was because I thought that if anything happened to me, my son would be legally able to live with my family.
Fortunately, all went well. I had my son two weeks before his due date, as my blood pressure became an increased concern to my doctors. I spent a total of three months in the US. My son got his social security number, birth certificate and US passport. I am planning to apply for a Jamaican passport for him so that he does not get deported from here.
I would like to be able to travel to the US with my son but I am being warned that I should not because the US immigration will detain and question me about why he was born there. I am even told that he would be taken from me and also that my visa could be revoked. It was said that I should let him travel with other persons instead.
Dear TB and SM:
I consolidated both your questions because the subject is one of the most frequently asked by readers. This week alone, there were three questions on this subject. There are several myths floating around in Jamaica and in the Jamaican community in the US, and no matter how often I address the subject in this column, it keeps coming up over and over with different twists.
It is not illegal for a non-resident or non citizen to have a child in the US. Every person born in the US is a US citizen. However, if you do not pay the cost for the birth of the child in the US, you can lose your non-immigrant visa.
The loss of the visa can occur during a visit to the US by the Customs and Border Protection officer at your port of entry - if you are travelling with your US citizen child. The revocation of your visa can also be done at the US Embassy when you go to either renew your visa or renew your child's US passport.
If you choose to have your child in the United States, or if you are on a visit and are forced to have your child in the US, you must pay for the birth of the child and keep the documentation to prove same. If you receive Medicaid (government assistance) to pay the hospital, you violated your non-immigrant visa and became a public charge upon the US government.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, corporate and personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and Special Magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org