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L.A. County cites 16 'maternity hotels' serving Asian visitors

April 11, 2013|By Cindy Chang
  • Protesters gathered in January to oppose a Chino Hills "maternity hotel," which allegedly housed women from China who traveled here to give birth to U.S. citizen babies.
Protesters gathered in January to oppose a Chino Hills "maternity… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Following a flurry of complaints, Los Angeles County inspectors have cited 16 “maternity hotel” owners for illegally operating boardinghouses in residential zones.

No major health or safety issues were found at the hotels, where women from Asia stay to give birth to U.S. citizen babies. But some of the facilities, which were in Rowland Heights or Hacienda Heights, were cited for building and fire code violations, according to a report released Thursday.

Some of the unauthorized renovations included kitchens, laundries, nurseries and living quarters for workers, the report said.

The inspections were commissioned by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in February after media coverage of a Chino Hills maternity hotel triggered an increase in complaints. The women typically come from China or Taiwan and stay in the hotels for several months before and after giving birth. The baby receives a U.S. passport, and the family returns home to Asia.

So-called birth tourism is permitted under United States immigration law as long as the pregnant woman has a valid tourist or business visa. But the San Gabriel Valley maternity hotels have typically operated out of single-family homes, putting them in violation of local zoning laws.

A draft ordinance targeting the hotels will not be ready until July at the earliest and will probably focus on single-family residential zones, said the report by L.A. County Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka.

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Twitter: @cindychangLA

cindy.chang@latimes.com

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