Update, 24 April 2014: As it turns out, Adam Geller of the Associated Press has finally overturned my prediction that you’d never see Davis’ story in the U.S. media; he interviewed Davis for his story “More renounce U.S. citizenship, but deny stereotype”:
When the team’s owner suggested last year that he join Taiwan’s national team, Davis says he found little motivation to keep his U.S. citizenship. “When you think about who I am as a black guy in the U.S., I didn’t have opportunities,” he says. “You get discriminated against over there in the South. Here everyone is so nice. They invite you into their homes, they’re so hospitable. … There’s no crime, no guns. I can’t help but love this place.”
Geller’s story also contains other familiar names. I’m very happy to see that my initial prediction turned out to be wrong, and that the Isaac Brock Society is succeeding in drawing media attention to the real diversity of motivations among people who decide to stop being U.S. citizens.
Here’s another story
you’ll never see in the U.S. media about an American planning to renounce U.S. citizenship to naturalise elsewhere: Quincy Davis, a Los Angeles native & Tulane University graduate who left the U.S. in 2006 to join a basketball team in Cyprus, and now plays in Taiwan. Davis applied to naturalise as a Taiwanese citizen last month so he can represent his adopted home in international competitions; United Daily News reported last week that his application is still in progress. After the jump I’ve translated a longer article from earlier last month about his reasons for naturalising in Taiwan, and the issues he faced.
Davis’s case falls somewhere in between the NBC Nightly News myth of “wealthy traitors fleeing the country to avoid the estate tax” and the more common reality of ordinary people who have lived in other countries for decades and are happy to give up U.S. citizenship to become full members of their societies. Davis is certainly well-off, but nowhere near as well-off as the Homelanders who are moving to Puerto Rico and — unlike actual emigrants — thereafter enjoy a complete exemption from capital gains tax on U.S. assets. And moreover, like nearly everyone else who comes to the decision to give up U.S. citizenship, he left the U.S. as a young adult in the course of pursuing success, put down roots elsewhere, and has a dream to keep chasing after he’s no longer a U.S. citizen.
Which of course is why you’ll never see the Homeland media print a word about him in between their endless repetitions of the names of Kenneth Dart, Eduardo Saverin, and Denise Rich.
Chinese Taipei’s $20,000/month naturalised “Iron Tower” to give up U.S. citizenship
|Australia Daily Chinese Herald, 16 May 2013
|With a monthly salary of US$20,000 per month to be in effect for at least two years, the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association confirmed that they have reached a verbal agreement with Quincy Davis under which he will become a naturalised member of the Chinese Taipei team, and compete in this August’s FIBA Asia Championship in the Philippines.
|Treated as special case, will naturalise by mid-June
|The earliest reports that the Chinese Taipei team would include a naturalised U.S. player came out in early 2013. On 16 January, during the Super Basketball League 2011 and 2012 MVP awards ceremony, Davis said something surprising to reporters: “As long as conditions permit, I wouldn’t reject the idea of naturalising and joining the Chinese Taipei team and playing in international competition”.
|As soon as the news came out, it attracted attention from all sides. In recent years, many countries in Asia have naturalised European and American players, but when this situation happened right in front of their eyes, many fans weren’t able to believe it. But soon after, Chinese Taipei team head trainer Hsu Chin-che, who is also Quincy’s head coach on the Pure Youth team, confirmed the news.
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s reports that another American basketballer in Taiwan — Rolando Howell — is also thinking of renouncing U.S. citizenship.
One of the ex-Americans whom Davis might face on the court is the former Eric Sandrin — now legally known as Lee Seung-jun — who naturalised as a South Korean citizen in 2009 so he could represent the country at the 2010 Asian Games. Other U.S. natives who have given up citizenship so they could represent their chosen homes in sport include Sandrin’s younger brother Daniel who is also now South Korean, equestrian Jennifer Snow Lee of Hong Kong, as well as skater Cathy Reed and sumo wrestler Takamiyama Daigorō (the former Jesse Kuhaulua) both of Japan.
Americans often look down on athletes and entertainers who achieve success overseas rather than in the U.S. — witness the derogatory descriptor “big in Japan”. This is part of the more widespread view that you have to live in the U.S. in order to be “truly American”; in the American national mythology of reverse migration, the only people who leave the U.S. for other countries are “failed migrants”: the sick, the indigent, the “self-deporters”, and the losers who “couldn’t assimilate”, whereas the ones who stayed are defined circularly as the “successful” by their U.S.-born descendants.
|“We’ve definitely discussed this many times with Davis, and both sides are very sincere”, said Hsu. “Right now, the biggest issue is the support of organisations like the Sports Administration and the Basketball Association. Money is not the most important problem, the key thing is whether the authorities are willing to help us out.”
|Although Hsu stated that money wasn’t the problem, Davis wasn’t satisfied with the first offer from the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association. At the start, the CTBA told Davis that they’d be willing to pay him the same salary as he was getting at Pure Youth. Under the current SBL rules, salaries given to foreign players cannot exceed US$10,000 per month. Aside from this, the CTBA didn’t give any response on the how long [the contract] would last.
|It’s also important to understand, if Davis were to play for the Chinese Taipei team, he’d have to give up his U.S. citizenship and naturalise in Taiwan (Taiwan doesn’t recognise dual citizenship for foreigners). Because of this, the matter of Davis’ naturalisation nearly ground to a halt. “Giving up the citizenship of your mother country is a big step in a person’s life, so I have to wait until I’ve talked about it with my coaches and after I’ve discussed the contract with the Basketball Association before this will move along any further”, said Davis.
Recently in Taiwan, there’s been some discussion about amending the nationality law to permit applicants for naturalisation to retain their earlier citizenships; native-born citizens in Taiwan are already permitted to obtain other citizenships without giving up their green passports, and the amendment has been described as simply levelling the playing field. One of the legislators behind the push is Hsiao Bi-khim, herself of mixed race and a former U.S. citizen as well — she renounced in 2000 when she first ran for legislative office, and suggested the amendments last December.
However, this proposal is not necessarily popular among existing naturalised citizens, who often feel that willingness to give up your previous citizenship is a reasonable mark of commitment to one’s new country. One proponent of this view is T.C. Lin, a former American who naturalised in Taiwan in the mid-1990s — back when that involved six months of hanging around in Hong Kong as a stateless refugee waiting for two countries’ bureaucracies to push papers around — and did his two years in the army at the height of the third Taiwan Straits crisis, when Beijing was busy lobbing missiles into the Pacific Ocean.
Amusingly enough, Lin was among the first group of renunciants who ever had their names officially published as part of a State Department list of one thousand names in 1995 — before then, the identities and total number of renunciants were closely-guarded government secrets. Soon after, mendacious Congresscritters like Lloyd Doggett proclaimed him and everyone else in that list to be part of a dangerous wave of “economic Benedict Arnolds” who “have grown so prosperous, they can denounce [sic] their citizenship and discover one day that the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda is their hometown”, in order to justify raising the renunciation tax and applying it to ex-green card holders as well.
|It is understood that the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association isn’t a wealthy organisation, and the CBTA stated that they hoped that the authorities and Pure Youth could provide assistance. Aside from this, Chinese Taipei Basketball Association chairman Ting Shou-chung paid visits to Taiwan’s Sports Administration and Interior Ministry to request support, and obtained their full cooperation.
|Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan stated, if Davis were willing to naturalise, the Interior Ministry would process it as a special case and move through it as quickly as possible in order to assist Davis to naturalise, Davis would receive his US$20,000 monthly salary with a two-year contract, and with regards to the problem of Davis’ period of residence in Taiwan, the Interior Ministry would discuss it in more detail.
If Hsu had been better-advised about his negotiating strategy, he would have pointed out to Davis that if he doesn’t naturalise, his bank is probably going to kick him out sometime next year — Taiwan has announced that it will negotiate a FATCA IGA with the United States, specifically a “Model II” agreement. No doubt the agreement will contain a clause mandating that the few banks which want to qualify for the extremely narrow and restrictive “local FFI” deemed-compliance category will be prohibited from discriminating against Americans — but it will contain no such restriction on other banks. Taiwan’s discrimination laws will be of little aid to Davis in trying to right this situation either, since they focus primarily on employment discrimination rather than discrimination against customers.
Even before the raise he’s been promised, Davis was already earning a six-figure salary, and so probably owed a few thousand dollars a year in U.S. taxes, plus whatever he’s paying to accountants to keep him compliant on the intrusive and dangerous paperwork the U.S. uses as an excuse to slam emigrants with $13,000 fines on $21/year tax deficiencies. And of course, as few Homelanders understand, emigrants also have to pay taxes in the countries where they actually live — in Davis’ case, at Taiwan’s top marginal rate of 40%, higher than in the United States.
|After gaining the support of the Interior Ministry, the matter of Davis’ naturalisation really started to get moving in a big way. Pure Youth general manager Liu Chun-ching confirmed, Davis had already verbally agreed to the above conditions. Davis has already applied to the U.S. authorities for proof that he’s never represented the U.S. national team at any international-level competitions, and once he’s approved by FIBA, Davis will immediately be able to put on the Chinese Taipei team jersey.
|According to sources, as long as nothing goes wrong, Davis can naturalise as a Taiwanese citizen in June, and register for the FIBA Asia Championship before 1 July.
|Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that after Davis finishes his two-year contract, he can obtain U.S. citizenship again. “Because Davis’ parents are both Americans, he can wait until he finishes his contract with the Chinese Taipei team, and then if he wants it’s not hard at all to get his U.S. citizenship status back, so as long as there’s final agreement from Davis, that’s that”, said Pure Youth general manager Liu Chun-ching.
This part about restoring U.S. citizenship is of course complete nonsense, but it’s an article of faith among rabble-rousers on both sides of Taiwan’s political spectrum that some government officials on the other side who lived in the U.S. before are faking their renunciations, and these myths about the ease of regaining citizenship — roughly the Taiwanese equivalent of U.S. conspiracy theories about Obama being Kenyindonesian and Romney being Mexican — have unfortunately leaked down into ordinary non-political discourse. Allegedly, these officials renounce their U.S. citizenship only to go resume it through some mysterious procedure described nowhere in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual, which in reality instructs consular officers to warn soon-to-be-ex-citizens that renunciation is final and irrevocable.
Since Davis is not married to a U.S. citizen, his only option for moving back to the U.S. is through an F1 green card sponsored by his parents. According to the State Department’s latest visa bulletin, the current wait time for an F1 (at least for people other than mainland Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, and Mexicans) is seven years. If Davis meets the right non-American woman while he’s waiting and decides to settle down with her, his parents or his siblings will have to file a new F3 or F4 petition for him, and his wait time goes up to more than a decade. Furthermore, as South Korean newspapers have pointed out, even ex-U.S. citizens who returned to the U.S. with green cards generally have not found it possible to re-naturalise.
All this assumes the U.S. immigration laws don’t change. With immigration reform in the pipeline, a number of provisions could make it even harder for Davis to qualify for a green card. First, the F4 (sibling) category might be eliminated entirely. Second, the F1 and F3 categories might be restricted to children under the age of 31 — Davis already turned 30 in February. And finally, if demagogues like Jack Reed, Chuck Schumer, and Orrin Hatch have their way, Davis could be permanently exiled from the land of his birth and not even allowed to come back as a tourist.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Davis simply doesn’t have any interest in moving to the U.S. after he retires from his basketball career in Taiwan anyway, and his public comments were simply part of his negotiating strategy.