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The Latest: Alleged birth tourism operators enter pleas

February 1, 2019
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FILE - In this March 3, 2015 file photo, federal agents enter an upscale apartment complex where authorities say a birth tourism business charged pregnant women $50,000 for lodging, food and transportation, in Irvine, Calif. On Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, authorities announced they have charged 20 people in an unprecedented crackdown on businesses that helped hundreds of Chinese women travel to the United States to give birth to American citizen children. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the federal charges related to Chinese birth tourism schemes (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Three people have pleaded not guilty to running schemes to bring Chinese women to the United States to give birth to babies who automatically hold American citizenship.

Dongyuan Li, Jing Dong and Michael Wei Yueh Liu appeared in federal court in Santa Ana, California, on Thursday.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, says Li was held without bond and ordered to appear for a detention hearing next Tuesday.

Mrozek says Dong and Liu were ordered released after they post a $250,000 bond.

Trials for all three are set for March 26.

Authorities say all three were arrested in a crackdown on so-called birth tourism schemes. The charges include conspiracy and wire fraud.

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12:13 p.m.

Three people charged with running schemes to bring Chinese women to the United States to give birth to babies who automatically hold American citizenship are due in court.

Dongyuan Li, Jing Dong and Michael Wei Yueh Liu are scheduled to appear in federal court in Santa Ana on Thursday.

Messages were left for Li and Dong’s attorneys. No attorney was immediately listed for Liu on the court’s website.

Authorities say all three were arrested Thursday in a crackdown on so-called birth tourism schemes aimed at bringing pregnant travelers to the United States to deliver their babies so the children will automatically have American citizenship. The charges include conspiracy and wire fraud.

Federal authorities raided the businesses in 2015.

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11:40 a.m.

Twenty people have been charged in the largest-ever crackdown on businesses that help Chinese women travel to the United States to give birth to babies who automatically became American citizens.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles says three people were arrested Thursday on charges including conspiracy, visa fraud and money laundering. More than a dozen others have also been charged in cases stemming from three so-called birth tourism businesses.

Authorities say it’s the first time the U.S. has criminally prosecuted birth tourism operators.

The businesses allegedly billed Chinese women thousands of dollars to travel to California to deliver their babies so the children automatically obtained U.S. citizenship. Authorities say the women hid their pregnancies and lie about details of their trips.

Federal agents raided the businesses in 2015.