×
January 12, 2018

A growing number of pregnant Russian women have been traveling to Miami to give birth, with the wealthier ones buying birth tourism packages and those of more modest means putting together DIY packages. Giving birth in the U.S., and Miami in particular, is a status symbol in Moscow, NBC News reports, and the big draw is birthright citizenship. All children born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens. "The child gets a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S." NBC News says. "And when they turn 21 they can sponsor their parents' application for an American green card."

President Trump, a critic of birthright citizenship, has been insisting on getting rid of such "chain migration" in immigration talks going on in Washington. But as The Daily Beast reported last year, Trump-branded condos in Miami, especially its Sunny Isles Beach area — dubbed "Little Russia" — are especially popular birth tourism bases for women who can afford the rent. Some Russian birth tourism outfits tout the Trump name in their packages. "There is no indication that Trump or the Trump Organization is profiting directly from birth tourism," NBC News says, though The Daily Beast notes that Trump's company "does benefit from Russian patronage of the nearby Trump International Beach Resort."

Birth tourism is perfectly legal — for now — as long as the birth tourists don't lie on their immigration or insurance forms, and California is a popular destination for Chinese mothers-to-be — as Jeb Bush awkwardly highlighted in 2015. There are no official numbers for how many foreign women come to the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens each year, but Florida says the number of births there by all foreign nationals who live outside the U.S. has spiked 200 percent since 2000. Peter Weber

8:52 p.m.

Capitol Police arrested 70 people on Thursday during protests against the Trump administration's immigration policies.

The protesters were arrested inside the Russell Senate Office Building, with Capitol Police saying they were unlawfully demonstrating in the rotunda. Thursday was the Catholic Day of Action to oppose immigration policies like detaining migrants in overcrowded facilities without adequate necessities. The Sisters of Mercy traveled from Chicago to Washington, D.C., for the protests, and one nun, 90-year-old Sister Pat Murphy, was arrested.

The situation in immigrant detention centers is "immoral," Murphy told ABC News during a phone interview. "These are our brothers and sisters and they are part of the human family," she said, adding, "I mean, any person with any human compassion would reach out. What is going on is, it's just abominable. It's a horrific situation that's happening right now." Murphy, who has been with Sisters of Mercy for 71 years, said it's not fair that people are "being punished because our immigration system is broken, it's shattered, it doesn't exist." Catherine Garcia

7:36 p.m.

President Trump will most likely nominate attorney Eugene Scalia to be the next Labor secretary, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.

Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In 2006, he represented Walmart in the retail giant's fight against a Maryland law that would have forced the company to spend more money on employee health care.

Last week, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stepped down following outrage over a 2008 plea deal he arranged with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will step into the role on Friday. Catherine Garcia

7:01 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday it will not ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with health problems in children.

During the Obama administration, the EPA produced scientific studies showing chlorpyrifos could damage brain development in children and prohibited its use, but in 2017, Scott Pruitt, then the agency's administrator, reversed course. This led to a legal battle, and in April, a federal appeals court told the EPA it had to make a final decision on the ban by July. In a statement, the agency said there is not enough data to show that an unsafe amount of pesticide residue is left in or on treated foods.

Sold under the name Lorsban, chlorpyrifos cannot be used in homes, but can be used by farmers, who spray it on more than 50 nut, fruit, vegetable, and cereal crops, The New York Times reports. Since the legal battle began, several states, including California and New York, have announced they are looking into banning chlorpyrifos. Catherine Garcia

5:40 p.m.

Words can't adequately prepare you for your first glimpse at the Cats movie.

Universal Pictures on Thursday debuted the highly-anticipated first footage from its upcoming musical adaptation after months of teases about Taylor Swift's attending of "cat school" and the film's supposedly revolutionary use of, as the filmmakers describe it, "digital fur technology." And, well, here it is.

From start to finish, the trailer is a wild ride that doesn't even attempt to ease viewers into how surreal literally every character in the film looks. That online reactions to the initially funky-looking CGI Genie in Aladdin and the extremely distressing new Sonic the Hedgehog don't even hold a candle.

Cats' cast includes, believe it or not, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Ian McKellen, and Judi Dench, who discussed their experience making the film in a recent behind-the-scenes reel featuring such quotes as "these are people but they're cats ... there is nothing else like it." Indeed, there isn't. Take a deep breath and watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:42 p.m.

Tom Cruise still has that need for speed, even three decades later.

At San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, Cruise made an unannounced appearance following a Terminator: Dark Fate panel to reveal the first trailer for the long-awaited Top: Gun Maverick, a follow-up to the 1986 original that's set for release next year. The footage, which dropped online shortly after its Comic-Con debut, shows off Cruise's return as Maverick and some seriously impressive-looking flying sequences.

Cruise, who in recent years has infamously done his own, increasingly insane stunts for the Mission: Impossible franchise, promised the Comic-Con audience similar authenticity in Maverick, saying, "Everything you see in this film, obviously, it's for real," Variety reports. "We're working with the Navy. All of the flying that you see in this picture, everything is real." He also described the movie as a "love letter to aviation."

Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters on June 26, 2020, and Cruise said Thursday that after a 34 year wait, "I felt it was my responsibility for me to deliver for you." Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:35 p.m.

The U.S. Navy has "destroyed" an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon.

The U.S.S. Boxer was sailing in the strategic strait when the drone came within 1,000 yards of it and ignored "multiple calls to stand down," Trump told reporters. It then took "defensive action" and used electronic jamming to down the drone, Trump continued.

The attack comes after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday claimed responsibility for seizing a foreign tanker that went missing this past weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, The Washington Post notes. It's the latest international incident in the waterway that connects the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world, and also comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran shot a U.S. drone in that area last month, but while America says it was in international airspace, Iran claimed it was flying in Iranian territory. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:55 p.m.

Toys 'R' Us is getting a reboot.

The retailer, which closed all its locations in the U.S. in 2018 after the company filed for bankruptcy, is being relaunched by Tru Kids Brands with the opening of two new stores this year, CNN reports. One of the new locations will be in Houston, Texas, while the other will be in Paramus, New Jersey, and the company's aim is to open 10 new stores by the end of 2020, The Washington Post reports.

But Toys 'R' Us won't be coming back without some major changes, as Tru Kids Brands has reworked the stores' design so they're more "fun and interactive" as to "better fit within today's retail environment," CEO Richard Barry told the Post. The two new locations will be smaller — 6,500-square feet compared to about 40,000 square feet before — and they'll emphasize open areas for children to play in, the Post notes. The stores will also sell fewer toys than before, CNN reports. Previously, lenders had teased a "new and re-imagined" Toys 'R Us on the horizon.

Ahead of this relaunch, though, The Associated Press notes that it's unclear "how much support the new model will get from suppliers, who were burned by Toys 'R' Us' quick demise." The company in 2018 announced it would close all of its stores in the United States six months after filing for bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of more than 30,000 jobs, per The Washington Post.

For Toys 'R' Us kids in Texas and New Jersey, the new locations will open this fall. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads