Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
The president’s affection for Vladimir Putin and accommodating stance on Russia have had a trickledown effect: a Russian baby boom centered on Trump’s Miami properties. While the trend of Russians traveling to Florida to give birth was being noticed as far back as 2014, a recent Daily Beastinvestigation indicates many of those expectant parents are booking Trump properties for their short-term accommodations. Wealthy Russian couples not only want to give their babies the dividends that come with American citizenship, they want their birthing experience to be as luxurious as possible. Trump properties offer high-end digs, as well as a brand now recognized as extremely hospitable to all things Russian.
An entire industry has sprung up around Russian birth tourism in Miami, in an area already known as the Russian Riviera and Little Moscow. The Daily Beast identified numerous companies that, for a hefty price, offer packages that bundle housing, medical services and other must-haves for the months Russian parents-to-be are in the states. Many of these companies make explicit reference to Trump lodgings in their advertisements, recognizing the name as a powerful draw for Russians who can afford it.
SVM-MED, a company with offices in Miami, Kiev and Moscow, reportedly “offers three tiers of packages to its clients, with the top two advertising lodging in Trump Towers. The most expensive package costs $84,700 for a Trump Tower II apartment with a gold-tiled bathtub and chauffeured Cadillac Escalade or Mercedes Benz.”
There are plenty of others for well-heeled Russian birth tourists to choose from:
Miami-Boom advertises an apartment at Trump Royale with two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. The website doesn’t list a price, but the same apartment is listed on other real-estate websites for $5,000 a month.
A third company, albeit aimed largely at Ukrainian customers, promises that Miami’s Sunny Isles suburb has excellent condominium options, “some of which, like Trump Towers, were created by American multi-billionaire Donald Trump himself!”
Technically, it’s not illegal to come to the U.S. to give birth, which is why these companies advise customers that “no one will get in trouble as long as they don’t lie on immigration paperwork.” The Sunny Medical Center “openly advertises citizenship as one of the primary benefits their clients receive.” Owner Vera Muzyka told the Daily Beast that all of its clients “openly tell U.S. officials that they are coming for birth tourism.” (It’s worth noting that upper-income Chinese birth tourists in the U.S. have been targets of a crackdown.)
While the Trump Organization doesn’t profit much from these wealthy Russians (many sublet condos that are already bought and paid for, often by millionaire Russian owners), the Daily Beast notes the organization “does benefit from Russian patronage of the nearby Trump International Beach Resort.” The visibility of Russian birth tourists at Trump properties also says a tremendous amount about the view of Trump from Russia.
The trend also offers insight into the hypocrisy on the right around the immigration debate. These families will return to Russia after giving birth having not only enjoyed a luxe stay at a Trump property, but filled with the confidence that their babies’ American citizenship will allow them to receive financial aid at U.S. colleges and a leg up on opportunities at American companies. The greatest benefit is that at age 21, “he or she can also apply for family reunification, to get her parents and non-citizen siblings green cards to come to the U.S.”
Replace the Russians in this news item with wealthy Nigerians or Colombians, and you have the kind of story Fox News would use as fearbait. Switch out the Trump properties with buildings connected to Obama by the flimsiest thread, and the GOP might launch an investigation. Trump spoke against birthright citizenship on the campaign trail in 2015, conservatives have been pushing the “anchor baby” explosion myth for two decades, and an estimated 800,000 young immigrants now fear deportation because of the cruel DACA repeal, all moves that cynically play to and ratchet up the xenophobia of the GOP base. But the fact that Trump’s properties have become what the Daily Beast describes as a “playground for birth tourists from Russia’s upper crust” is a non-story for a right wing that only worries about brown waves of immigration.
Even Russian birth tourists understand clearly that this administration’s message on immigration is colored by the color of the immigrants themselves.
“When Trump was elected, he said he wanted to eliminate citizenship based on place of birth,” Tanya Yanygina, a Russian birth tourist told the Daily Beast. “But he said that in reference to people from the Middle East and Mexico.”
Valeriya Storozheva, a Russian woman awaiting her due date while renting a Trump property, is back for a second birth. She told the Daily Beast that her first child, born seven years ago, attends an American school. The new baby is supposed to arrive in the autumn. Like some of the other Russian moms who gave birth in recent months, Storozheva may choose to give her newborn yet another connection to the Trump administration. As Vera Muzyka observed, “The name Melania has become very popular.”[h/t Daily Beast]