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CBS4 Investigates: Shortcut To Citizenship

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Tiny red-covered feet kick at new life, born here in the USA, but headed back to mother Russia on a non-stop flight from Miami to Moscow. It's all part of a booming baby business, created for women living in the former Soviet Bloc countries, who want to the benefits of giving birth to an American citizen.

"No I have not heard of it and I don't like it!" declared one Miami visitor from Texas.

"That's wrong on so many levels," exclaimed a Miami resident.

For weeks, CBS4 watched the check-in counter of the official Russian Airlines, Aeroflot, at Miami International, as dozens of women with tiny newborns prepared to board a flight with the newest member of their family, an infant and instant U.S. citizen.

Did you come here to give birth asked our interpreter of a woman checking in to board Aeroflot with an infant? Yes nodded the new mother. Others who were headed home didn't want to talk.

Downstairs, where Russians were arriving on Aeroflot from Moscow, we met Christina, beaming in her 6th month of pregnancy here to give birth. We didn't even need an interpreter.

"Cause of medicine services is very good much better than in Russia and Europe as well," Christina Golubevi of Moscow told CBS4 Investigates.

Stroll the sidewalks of shopping plazas along Sunny Isles Beach. There is a reason it's called the Russian Riviera. Young women with strollers or visibly pregnant are everywhere speaking Russian. Many live in luxury condos or shop for Russian food at Matroyshka's Deli. That's where we met Maria Perova.

"I live in a four building complex and pregnant women are constantly coming having babies and leaving. Constantly. It's like a summer camp," Perova told CBS4.

26-year old Perova was a TV reporter back in Russia. Today she and her husband are the parents of an 18-month old baby girl.

"I wanted to deliver my baby in America because of the citizenship," said Perova.

Iulia Scmerenco from Moldova also came here to give birth to a U.S. citizen, but said that's not the only reason.

"Because of the weather. Because of the good medical service," said Scmerenco.

26-year old Iulia and her husband are planning to stay in the U.S. with their 2-month old son.

"And you know I have such a good experience, so I'm ready to make two more kids at least," confessed Scmerenco.

According to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, any child born on American soil is automatically an American citizen. It's called "jus soli." America is one of only three major countries in the world that still guarantees citizenship this way.

And CBS4 Investigates has uncovered numerous Russian language, web-based companies, all geared towards helping pregnant foreigners exploit that rule. These are businesses that charge big bucks and promise the ultimate child birth experience, right here in Miami.

One of them was founded by 28-year old Vladimir Nevidomy, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine when he was 15.

"It's not a secret that if a woman delivers here, the baby... the newborn baby becomes American," Nevidomy told CBS4 News Anchor Rick Folbaum. and it's competitors all charge between $20,000 and $100,000, acting as a sort of pregnancy concierge, recommending doctors and hospitals, short-term housing and transportation.

"Our way was very hard," declared Mila Kravets. She immigrated from the former Soviet Union 25-years ago when her daughter Alina was a small child. They spent a decade working on getting their U.S. citizenship.

"My parents had to pass exams, had to pay taxes, had to really earn it. Where these people are obtaining this sort of benefit for their children in a very easy method," said Alina Bonsell, Kravets daughter.

"It's actually kind of shocking," exclaimed a Miami residents after we explained what we'd uncovered.

"We're doing everything totally legal," insisted Nevidomy.

"So what would you say to those people out there who say you're really providing people with an unfair shortcut?" asked Folbaum.

Nevidomy replied, "If those people who think, oh this is a short cut, well if you would be Russian and you would be able to do this why not? You would do this."

New businesses that are thriving, tourists who are shopping, dining, renting and even buying homes. it sounds like a recipe for a chamber of commerce success story. And maybe because it's legal, CBS4 Investigates discovered that no federal or state agency seems to be tracking how often it's happening.
But Vladimir, as a businessman tracks it. He told Folbaum that last year alone, at least 60 Russian women gave birth in South Florida each month!


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