Sunday, January 14, 2018

Birth Tourism... Lots Of Little Manchurian Candidates?


I encouraged Lou Reed to play this song at a state banquet at the White House. I sat next to Orrin Hatch or Richard Lugar-- who remembers?... and whichever it was loved it and swayed to it in his seat.
I travel a lot. All over the world. I started when I was just a kid, hitchhiking first to Montreal and then to Mexico City. I loved it. That was many decades ago and I've been to every continent and to scores of countries. Some countries I go to again and again and some... some once is enough. I just got back from Thailand. I've been there over 20 times. I like Thailand. Others that I can't get enough of and have been to multiple times, sometimes for extended stays, include Morocco, Holland, France, India, Spain, Italy, the U.K., Mexico, Nepal, Turkey... Once is enough countries for me? Hong Kong, Israel, Switzerland, Myanmar, Russia. Why? The people and the food are two easily discernible factors in each group.

Last year I was in Russia for the first time. It has its moments for me for sure but, overall, I wasn't crazy about it. I didn't like the people much, especially not in Moscow, where I found the people cold and suspicious and unfriendly. St. Petersburg was better, at least on the surface. I had an affair there and that was nice, but he was very anti-American. He had been brainwashed in school to hate America, although he was eager to live in Miami and his favorite music was rap and he was very open and attentive to this particular American. I never heard from him again though. Russia's weird. Trump didn't include them in his long list of "shithole countries." He loves Russia.

Ever hear of birth tourism? It's big in Russia now, as NBC explained last week. Cynthia McFadden wrote that pregnant Russian women are lured to Miami to get citizenship for their newborn children. "In Moscow, it's a status symbol to have a Miami-born baby, and social media is full of Russian women boasting of their little americantsy. It isn't just the warm weather and the good doctors. Like for the wealthy Chinese mothers-to-be who flock to L.A., it's the American passport for the baby. And Trump and other right-wing xenophobes haven't said a word about it, at least not in regard to Russians. For him chain migration is about people of color-- not white people.
What they are doing is completely legal, as long as they don't lie on any immigration or insurance paperwork. In fact, it's protected by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says anyone born on American soil is automatically a citizen.

The child gets a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S. And when they turn 21 they can sponsor their parents' application for an American green card.

As president, Donald Trump has indicated he is opposed to so-called chain migration, which gives U.S. citizens the right to sponsor relatives, because of recent terror attacks. And as a candidate, he called for an end to birthright citizenship, declaring it in one of his first policy papers the "biggest magnet for illegal immigration."

"You have to get rid of it," he said on Meet the Press on NBC. "They're having a baby and all of a sudden-- nobody knows-- the baby is here. You have no choice."

In a twist, as the Daily Beast first reported, condo buildings that bear the Trump name are the most popular for the out-of-town obstetric patients, although the units are subleased from the individual owners and it's not clear if building management is aware.

There is no indication that Trump or the Trump Organization is profiting directly from birth tourism; the company and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Roman Bokeria, the state director of the Florida Association of Realtors told NBC News that Trump-branded buildings in the Sunny Isles Beach area north of Miami are particularly popular with the Russian birth tourists and Russian immigrants.

"Sunny Isles beach has a nickname-- Little Russia-- because people who are moving from Russian-speaking countries to America, they want … a familiar environment."

"They go across the street, they have Russian market, Russian doctor, Russian lawyer," he added. "It's very comfortable for them."

Reshetova came to Miami to have her first child, hiring an agency to help arrange her trip. The services-- which can include finding apartments and doctors and obtaining visas-- don't come cheap. She expects to pay close to $50,000, and some packages run as high as $100,000. Bokeria says some landlords ask for six months rent up front.
My great-grandparents came to the U.S. from Russia, penniless, feeling for their lives, to escape virulent Tsarist persecution. Trump would call them names. These Russians are a very different set of people. And he wants them here, the same way Republicans like Nixon went out of their way to lure Eastern European Nazi collaborators to New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania...

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