Regulating Birth Tourism: The Flow from Taiwan to the United States
Tingyu Kang(Department of Journalism, Natoinal Chengchi University)
This article focuses on the context of birth tourism from Taiwan to the United States, analyzing how border regulators manage this increasingly popular phenomenon and how birth tourists experience and react to the regulations. The methods are twofold. Firstly, this research is based on interviews with border regulators and the analysis of relevant secondary materials to obtain information regarding how border regulators manage birth tourism. The analysis of secondary data mainly focuses on policy papers, public talks, and press releases by officers at Custom and Border Protection. Secondly, this study is also based on interviews with birth tourists which inquire into their experiences of border regulations. The findings suggest the regulation of birth tourism is largely governed by a neoliberal logic. That is, only financially autonomous and economically competent transnationals are considered qualified for entry. This seemingly gender-neutral border principal is in fact highly gendered, as women’s reproduction is viewed as a financial threat to borders. Border regulators regularly scrutinize women’s reproductive status and categorize them into “good pregnancy” and “bad pregnancy” according to their financial competence. This constructs an embodied subjectivity among the women that surrounds their vague and volatile legal status, leading to their constant self-surveillance of their own reproductive bodies. The process through which the women build a perception of their own legal status is racialized and classed. They construct birth tourists from other national and class backgrounds as a racial and economic Other to draw boundaries between themselves as the legitimate visitors and the have-nots as the outlawed, unwelcomed “black sheep” in the ever expanding flow of birth tourism.
birth tourism, neoliberalism, border management, pregnancy, migration, gender