© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Six Charged In Scheme To Bring Pregnant Turkish Women To Long Island For Citizenship

Courtesy of Pixabay

Federal prosecutors on Long Island have charged six people with operating an illegal citizenship scheme in central Suffolk County known as birth tourism.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said an investigation found 117 Turkish women paid up to $10,000 to come to Long Island to give birth so that their children would have U.S. citizenship.

“Information was provided to detectives about birth certificates obtained by five Turkish women all with the same address that had babies around the same time,” Hart said.

The operators of the scheme took a total of $750,000 from the pregnant women.

Prosecutors said they required the mothers to claim that they were impoverished and eligible for a collective $2.1 million in taxpayer-supported Medicaid benefits.

Several women were returned to Turkey and were not charged. Their babies will most likely keep their U.S. citizenship.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.