By Rebecca Shabad - 02/11/14 12:35 PM EST
A growing number of pregnant Chinese women are having their babies in the U.S. territory of Saipan, automatically giving the children American citizenship, according to the region's congressman.
Del. Gregorio Sablan (D) represents Saipan and the rest of the Northern Mariana Islands in Congress. The U.S. territory is in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 3,700 miles west of Honolulu and a four-hour flight from China.
“We want to fix this and we want to make sure that this small problem remains very small,” Sablan said.
In 2009, only eight Chinese babies were born on Saipan. In 2012, that number jumped to 282, according to the report.
Now, 71 percent of babies born on the island are “American-born Chinese.”
The practice is not illegal, and no visa is required to visit the island.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a staunch proponent of strict immigration rules, said the births can be a foothold into America.
“When they become of age, they can apply to bring their families into the United States,” he said.
An ABC News reporter and a producer, who posed as pregnant, conducted an undercover video-shoot as they visited a birth tourism agency in Beijing. An agent attempted to sell them a package to Saipan totaling $27,000, which gives newborn babies American citizenship documents.
The two journalists turned down the offer, and visited Saipan themselves. In a separate undercover shoot, a doctor there told them “I know everything you need to know about having an American baby. You’re in safe hands.”