LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday was considering stronger regulations for so-called maternity hotels where women come from abroad to give birth.

Supervisor Don Knabe called for more rigorous zoning restrictions targeting boarding houses countywide where many Asian women reportedly obtain tourist visas and pay up to $15,000 so their children are automatically granted citizenship.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports Knabe is also seeking to establish multi-agency inspection teams and funding to assist the inspectors with additional staff as well as Mandarin and Cantonese translators.

Knabe said the rise in maternity hotels in LA County – particularly in the San Gabriel Valley – is both an economic and immigration threat.

“That’s a cash cow for these folks,” said Knabe. “There’s no tracing of records, these woman are paying $30,000 to come over here to have a baby so it becomes a U.S. citizen, so at some point they can come back for an education here in the country, so that’s another immigration issue.”

“But the most important part of this is the health and the safety of the baby and the mother,” he added.

Residents in Chino Hills held a demonstration in December calling for the city to shut down a property in the 15000 block of Woodglen Drive that allegedly operates as a maternity hotel.

But Knabe rejected the notion that simple zoning changes are all that will be needed to effectively address the issue.

“The conditions inside some of these houses are putting the lives of the mothers and babies at risk and we must do what we can to protect them and stop this illegal activity,” he said.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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