Federal agents raided more than three dozen suspected Southern California "maternity hotels," so named for the use of their rooms as birthing spots for foreigners who want their newborns to be legal Americans.
The busted sites had reputations as "maternity tourism" spots, authorities said, and included several apartment complexes in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, CNN reported.
Participating women came mostly from China and are believed to have paid between $15,000 and 50,000 for their expenses, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported.
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"Based on the results of the investigations to date, it appears the women pay cash for prenatal visits and the actual delivery," a statement from the federal government said, CNN reported. "As part of the package, clients were promised they would receive Social Security numbers and U.S. passports for their infants, which the mothers would take with them when they left the U.S."
The children, by birth American citizens, can – upon adulthood – then apply for visas for their family members living abroad.
Investigators don't expect to arrest anybody from the raids, Reuters reported. Police protocol for the raids required that they only question women found at the scenes and warn them they might be contacted to serve as material witnesses at a later date.