Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Pregnant Travelers

and women of color are being targeted by the administration’s travel bans

Why It Matters

  • Trump's latest travel ban discriminates against foreign people of color who are pregnant and want to travel to the United States on a short-term tourist visa.

  • In addition to targeting actual pregnant people, the travel ban also targets foreign travelers who authorities could mistake for being pregnant and those who authorities could deem as likely to become pregnant while they visit the United States.

  • Specifically, the new tourist visa rule lets the State Department deny temporary visas to people who the Department suspects are visiting the United States in order to give birth there and obtain U.S. citizenship for their baby.

Related Players

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Mike Pence

Vice President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
William Barr

U.S. Attorney General (DOJ)

Nominated by Trump: 1-3-2019
Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

Nominated by Trump: 3-13-2018

How We Got Here & Where We're Headed

What to expect next: The administration is likely to continue clamping down on immigration. 

  • 2-24-2020
    Public charge rule goes into effect nationwide

  • 1-31-2020
    Trump signs an executive order to expand the Muslim ban to people from six additional countries in Africa and Asia

  • 1-27-2020
    Supreme Court rules that the administration can use its new “public charge” standard while lawsuits against it go forward

  • 1-23-2020
    Trump-Pence administration lets the State Department deny temporary visas to women of reproductive age, primarily women of color

  • 9-1-2019
    Supreme Court temporarily permits third-country rule, which denies most asylum claims at the Southern border

  • 8-21-2019
    Trump administration announced a final family detention rule that would allow the administration to detain children indefinitely

  • 8-12-2019
    Trump administration issues final “public charge” rule designed to stop immigrants from accessing public benefits to which they are legally entitled

    View more +


    • 7-16-2019
      Rule issued that makes immigrants ineligible for U.S. asylum if they passed through Mexico — denying asylum to nearly all South American immigrants
    • 5-10-2019
      Trump administration issues a proposed rule that would evict mixed-status families from public housing
    • 11-9-2018 
      Trump announces a policy to severely restrict asylum for immigrants
    • 10-10-2018
      Trump administration proposes a rule to keep immigrants with low incomes from entering the U.S. or changing their immigration status.
    • 9-7-2018
      Trump administration proposes family detention rule to let U.S. jail immigrant children indefinitely
    • 6-26-2018
      Supreme Court upholds third version of the travel ban, blocking most immigrants and many travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen
    • 6-11-2018
      Jeff Sessions says immigrants fleeing domestic violence don’t qualify for asylum
    • 4-6-2018
      U.S. sharply increases separation of immigrant families at the border
    • 3-27-2018
      Trump administration says it plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census; the addition is later blocked by the courts
    • 1-12-2018
      In a congressional DACA meeting, Trump said the U.S. should welcome immigrants from Norway (whose citizens are mostly white) instead of from "shithole countries" like Haiti, El Salvador and African countries
    • 12-18-2017
      Refugee office head says he interfered with undocumented women’s abortion access
    • 12-14-2017
      Trump administration starts detaining pregnant immigrants during legal proceedings
    • 12-4-2017
      Supreme Court grants the Trump administration’s request to allow “Muslim ban 3.0” to take full effect while litigation continues
    • 10-10-2017
      ACLU sues ORR for blocking a detained undocumented woman’s access to abortion
    • 9-5-2017
      The Trump administration announces it’s ending DACA
    • 3-6-2017
      Trump signs updated executive order that imposes nationalization-based restrictions on those seeking to enter the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries, and severely limits refugee entry into the U.S.
    • 1-27-2017
      Trump signs executive order banning entry to the U.S. for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries — triggering large protests in airports and several lawsuits against the administration



The Trump-Pence administration’s travel ban on pregnant women is yet again an extreme case of gender and racial discrimination.


Attacking the Rights of Pregnant Travelers and People of Color

The tourist visa rule gives new authority to consular officers: The State Department now requires these diplomats to deny tourist visas to pregnant applicants they believe are traveling to the U.S. to give birth. Travelers coming from one of 39 (mostly European) protected countries are exempt. Alternatively, travelers will be forced to prove with documentation that they must come to the United States for a compelling reason — such as business or medical necessity — and that they can pay their own way fully.

The Trump-Pence administration says the discriminatory travel ban is intended to stop people from traveling to the United States just to give birth and take advantage of the constitutional “birthright citizenship” provision, which grants U.S. citizenship to babies born on U.S. soil. However, administration officials have sensationalized stories about such rare instances, which they refer to as “birth tourism.” In practice, the travel ban is likely to block travel for young women of color and violate their privacy, and spur pregnant people to hide their pregnancies.

Background on the Anti-Pregnancy Tourist Visa Rule

Targeting Pregnant Africans, Asians, Latin Americans

The anti-pregnancy travel ban primarily hurts travelers from Africa, Asia, and Latin America because it does not apply to countries in the Visa Waiver Program. European countries make up 31 of the 39 countries in this protected program, which allows people from those countries to travel to the United States without a visa. So, the policy could have the effect of forcing women from Africa and Latin America to prove they aren’t pregnant to enter the United States. 

Setting Up Unfair, Discriminatory Practices

The State Department did not provide instructions on how consular officers should determine if a visa applicant is pregnant. So, if a traveler comes to an embassy or consulate office and appears as if they might be pregnant — such as looking young, having a round body shape, or listing "medical treatment" as a reason for wanting to travel to the United States — then consular officers are expected to ask them if they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. 

Part of the Administration’s Anti-Immigration Agenda

The administration used visas as an anti-immigration tactic in its travel ban against Muslims — a ban that Trump recently extended to more Muslim-majority countries. Both travel bans are part of a line of restrictions on immigration, asylum seekers and refugees, and foreign travelers, including ending temporary protected status for several countries; the physical separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border; the rollback of parental rights as part of immigration proceedings; and increased enforcement of detention and deportation. One of the consequences: a culture of fear within immigrant communities, where people can be too afraid to come out of the shadows to obtain health care and live out their lives.

The Hill
What is a Consular Officer?

Consular officers work at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and mainly help U.S. citizens while they are visiting other countries. These diplomats also help some people from other countries get the documents they need to visit the United States. That includes tourist visas for short-term trips related to business, pleasure, urgent medical treatment, or to see friends and family — the type of visa at issue in Trump’s anti-pregnant person travel ban. The rule also will restrict foreigners’ ability to attend international convenings held in the United States, such as the UN  Commission on the Status of Women and the 2020 International AIDS Conference.

Knowing Immigration Law
What is So-Called “Birth Tourism,” and Is It Legal?

Although relatively rare, the practice of traveling to the United States on a tourist visa to give birth is legal. Such tourist visa applicants are usually up front about their intentions and show consular officers signed contracts with doctors and hospitals. Sometimes, pregnant people want to give birth in America because of high maternal and infant mortality rates in their home countries.


Related Policies

The Muslim Ban

Separating Immigrant Families

Immigrant Access to Abortion

Legal Status for Dreamers

Public Benefits for Immigrants

Detention of Pregnant Immigrants

2020 Census