The Eclipse, a Yacht Belonging to Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, New York City
Nathan, Sara, Anchored in the USA! Model girlfriend of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich gives birth in New York after parking his $1.5bn yacht on the Hudson for two months, The Daily Mail, 15 April 2013.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is perhaps best known for his wealth, status as a successful businessman, and ownership of the Premier league football team Chelsea F.C. For two months in 2013 he was also known for parking his 1.5 billion dollar yacht in the Hudson river off Manhattan. Abramovich docked the Eclipse in New York for a price tag of $2,000 USD a day “much to the astonishment of New Yorkers” as Nathan says. The press speculated that the reason Abramovich and his yacht remained so long off the coast of New York City was that his wife, Russian socialite Dasha Zhukova, was in the final months of pregnancy with her and Abramovich’s 2nd child. It was reported that the stay was high-priced insurance that the child would be born on American soil and therefore be an American citizen.
However Zhukova had grown up in Los Angeles and was already in possession of an American passport. A source close to the family debunked the rumors explaining that while Dasha did wish to give birth in the United States she also “grew up in the US. The baby could have been born anywhere in the world and still had US citizenship.”
The Eclipse is 557 feet in length and once held the title of the world’s biggest yacht. The massive vessel possess a variety of extravagant amenities including “two swimming pools, two helicopter pads, a movie theater, a jacuzzi as well as a disco, around 30 cabins, a mini-submarine, and even a missile defense system.” The yacht is also equipped with “armour-plating around Abramovich’s master suite, bullet-proof windows and a laser system designed to dazzle long-lens photographers.”
In addition to the Eclipse, Abramovich also owns three other “mega-yachts” named Pelorus, the Ecstasea, and the Sussurro. While smaller than the Eclipse, these vessels measure 377 ft, 282 ft, 161 ft respectively. Nathan reports that the annual running costs alone for Abramovich's fleet can often reach $25 million USD. Each fuel up for a full tank of gas costs as much as $110,000 USD.
Shyong, Frank, Why Birth Tourism from China Persists even as U.S. Officials Crack Down, The LA Times, 30 December 2016.
The phenomenon of “birth tourism” when pregnant women from outside the US travel to America to have their babies, thereby insuring that the child has American citizenship, is becoming more and more popular amongst the pregnant women of China.
Despite a rise in middle-class Chinese incomes, many families still migrate to the United States at the end of pregnancy in order to give their child “a chance at the world’s best education, a safe childhood and reliable medical care without long lines.” Shyong quotes a woman from Shanghai named Tracy as saying “I’m here to give my kids better options.” Another birth tourist Kelly explains “Chinese people still have this perception of America as a dream place to live, that it is bigger, better, stronger.” Although the Chinese middle class has developed in recent years Pew Research reports that “food safety, pollution and income inequality are now among Chinese citizens’ top concerns.”
This process is made easier by the creation of “maternity hotels” in American Chinese communities. Those already living here have created a “cottage industry” in which Chinese midwives and doctors accept cash and citizens convert their apartments and homes into “hotels for the women during their pregnancies.”
The legality of birth tourism is murky. Spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Virginia Kice explains “There is nothing in the law that makes it illegal for pregnant women to enter the United States” however a person who has lied about the purpose of their visit can be “charged with visa fraud.” Some argue that while this practice isn’t explicitly illegal it is “a way to gain citizenship for children by unfairly gaming the immigration system.”
Karin Wang, a vice president at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, believes that much of the rhetoric surrounding birth tourism is based on “xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment. She is quoted as saying “If the immigration system itself worked better, then these convoluted paths that people take to secure status in America would lessen or disappear.”
Shyong highlights a lesser known benefit of birth tourism- and increase in the consumer economy. He explains that many birth hotels are located in Californian suburbs and, as such, “birth tourism is the neighborhood’s incognito economic engine — dozens of pregnant Chinese women visit these shopping centers each day, walking from nearby maternity facilities or transported by cars the hotel operators provide.”
Hanson, Davis Victor. Why Borders Matter—And a Borderless World is a Fantasy. The LA Times, July 31, 2016. < http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hanson-borders-20160731-snap-story.html>
A counter point to a borderless world is that “formal borders do not create difference — they reflect it”. Borders reflect the human desire to own property and differentiate it from others’. It can be argued that borders reflect human nature, “Between friends, unfenced borders enhance friendship; among the unfriendly, when fortified, they help keep the peace”.