From family separation, detention centers, green card restrictions, travel bans and even proposals to remove birthright citizenship, the current President isn’t exactly eager to welcome people into the country. Now, his administration has taken it a step further by revising the US Visa Policy to combat birth tourism, a practice in which women from foreign countries enter the United States to give birth, thus granting their child U.S. citizenship.
Previously, the practice was perfectly legal; children born to mothers on American soil are protected by the 14th Amendment, regardless of the mother’s immigration status. The only caveat was that mothers partaking in birth tourism had to be honest about their intentions when applying for a U.S. Visa.
The new policy requires that consular officers block entry for women that are likely to give birth in the United States. The State Department declared that birth tourism poses a “national security” threat and that it is, “rife with criminal activity, including international criminal schemes.” Critics also say that it places a large strain on hospitals responsible for delivering birth tourism babies.
Regardless of whether one thinks that these precautions against “illegal” births are too much, one aspect of the issue is undeniable: how rife with irony this policy is coming from Trump. Hypocrisy is nothing new to the President; he oftentimes contradicts himself while attempting to please his base and simultaneously line his pockets. Politico even argues that he has turned self-contradiction into an art, meaning that no blunder regarding his values or a stance on a particular issue can hurt him anymore. He self-contradicts himself to such an extent that his rambling becomes mere white noise, and no one is inclined to even call him out anymore.
The issue of birth tourism is no different. Although Trump appears to defend the “sanctity” of U.S. citizenships, he also wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to personally profit from families willing to pay a large sum of money for it.
One of the most attractive locations for foreign mothers-to-be hoping to secure a U.S. passport for their child isMiami, Florida. It’s especially popular with Russian families, due to the large Russian community living there, dubbed, “Little Moscow.” Another aspect of life in Miami drawing pregnant Russian women to Florida? Lavish Trump properties.
Trump International Beach Resort, Trump Palace, and Trump Royale are all located near the Russian communities of Miami and have served as hotspots for pregnant Russian mothers. In fact, the properties are so iconic to the industry of birth tourism that several companies providing birth vacation packages tote Trump apartments as their most high luxury options. For example, SVM-MED, a birth tourism company, offers its most expensive package in Trump Towers, including a “gold-tiled bathtub and chauffeured Cadillac Escalade or Mercedez-Benz.”
The Trump Organization had been contacted by news outlets regarding this information, yet refused to comment. So if Trump is aware of birth tourism occurring right on his properties, why does he turn the other cheek? It has a lot to do with racism.
Russian parents aren’t the only ones purchasing packages to give birth in the United States. The two other most popular countries of origin for birth tourists include China and Nigeria. Trump has made his sentiments towards African countries abundantly clear with his “shithole” comments, declaring that immigrants from that part of the world are not something that the U.S wants.
In fact, Trump is so averse to welcoming immigrants from Nigeria that he added the nation to his recently expanded travel ban, preventing Nigerian citizens from obtaining immigrant Visas. The reasoning for this ban is that Nigeria doesn’t uphold U.S security requirements pertaining to passports, however, it is obvious that this move is deeply racist. Nigeria possesses quite a large Muslim population, like other countries included in the travel bam.
It is clear that Trump wants to minimize these people’s presence in the U.S, whether that be through a travel ban or creating laws concerning birth tourism. Meanwhile, white Russian immigrants can find sanctuary in his properties and don’t face outlandish obstacles in immigrating to the U.S. These policies embody Trump's blatant Islamophobia and racism, and his base loves him all the more for it.
It is also quite evident that Trump is fixated on the idea of people who aren’t “American” becoming American through processes like birthright citizenship or even legal immigration from countries he finds undesirable. He notoriously brought up the idea of eliminating birthright citizenship through an executive order despite legal experts asserting that would require a change to the Constitution.
The problem with that is if he doesn’t perceive immigrants or children born on American soil as true Americans, it becomes unclear who is considered an American in the eyes of him and his supporters. It brings up a question of American identity that the U.S. has been grappling with since its establishment. The first “Americans” massacred indigenous populations to claim the land. Generations later, even some white European immigrants were looked down upon for not fitting into the “American” identity. Now, that status is being denied from people of a different race or religious affiliation.
Even after many generations of a foreign family settling in the U.S., many people still don’t perceive them to be truly American. How long must a family be established in the U.S. to overcome that? To me, the answer is that lineage in the U.S doesn’t have to reach back by generations at all. As an immigrant, I have no ancestors in the U.S, but I am an American and no one can deny me that identity because of my family’s history. No one has to fit certain criteria of race or familial history to become an American.