Strange findings from a recent survey by Rasmussen Reports: when asked “have you ever considered giving up your U.S. citizenship?”, nine percent of 977 U.S. adults responded that they had:
Few Americans have ever thought about giving up their U.S. citizenship … Perhaps in part that’s because 93% consider it at least somewhat important to be a U.S. citizen, including 79% who think it is Very Important … Men are more likely than women to have considered giving up their U.S. citizenship. Democrats are less likely than Republicans and unaffiliateds to have considered it. But sizable majorities across all demographic categories have never given a thought to quitting their U.S. citizenship.
Keep in mind however that this is a so-called “national survey” — by which they mean a survey conducted throughout the territory of the State, not among a representative sample of members of the nation located both on State territory and abroad. But just think: if 9% of Homelanders have toyed with the idea of renouncing U.S. citizenship, how many Americans abroad do you imagine are considering it?
Renunciation within the United States? Not likely
As we discussed previously, the 1996 General Social Survey found that nearly 18% of native-born U.S. citizens had spent some time living abroad. However, it’s not clear how many of the 9% of people who told Rasmussen that they had considered giving U.S. citizen are drawn from among former expats who had once thought of cutting off ties to the U.S. but then instead decided to move back, and how many have never lived abroad and have no idea precisely what giving up U.S. citizenship actually involves.
The vast majority of Homelanders are most likely unaware that you have to be living abroad before you can renounce citizenship, given that even their lawyers publish articles claiming that you have to pay your exit tax before you get on a “jet plane” leaving the country. Though the Renunciation Act of 1944 allows domestic renunciations when the U.S. is in a state of war, there’s no evidence that the U.S. government has actually accepted any such renunciations since World War II, when about five thousand Japanese American internees renounced. (Many of their renunciations were later found to have been involuntary.)
From 1947 to 2010, we can be certain that the U.S. government accepted no domestic renunciations. In 2010, the DC District Court ruled that the U.S. is in a state of war for purposes of the Renunciation Act of 1944; the Department of Justice appears reluctant to appeal this ruling, likely for fear of giving a circuit court the opportunity to rule on the meaning of “state of war”. The Senate immigration bill contains provisions to repeal the Renunciation Act of 1944, probably also with an eye to closing off this avenue for a judicial opinion of precedential value on what exactly constitutes a “state of war”.
However, it’s not as simple as going to a post office and handing in an affidavit, as the “sovereign citizens” movement thinks: other judges have held that even though the U.S. may be in a state of war, USCIS — the agency responsible for administering the 1944 Act — has broad leeway to reject applicants for renunciation, or to place their applications on hold. So far, it seems that most applicants for renunciation are prisoners, and USCIS can easily stall them by demanding that they show up in person. Even without that hurdle, USCIS would most likely demand that anyone renouncing U.S. citizenship under the 1944 Act show that they have a second citizenship and would depart from the U.S. voluntarily — they had enough trouble dealing with Thomas Jolley and Garry Davis back in the 1970s.
In other words: sorry to you 9% of Homelanders, renunciation is solely a privilege for the American diaspora!
How many Americans abroad have considered giving up citizenship?
Even if only 9% of Americans abroad were thinking of renouncing citizenship, that would still be 680,000 of the estimated 7.6 million members of the American diaspora. Of course, most of them have not yet acted on this plan — based on FBI statistics, probably only about eight thousand or so Americans abroad gave up citizenship in any way last year, whether by renunciation or relinquishment.
On the other hand, it seems that as many as a quarter of new parents in the American diaspora are failing to register their babies with the U.S. consulate — either because they consider U.S. citizenship to be too unimportant to bother looking into the procedure and filling out the 20-minute paperwork, or because they have actively chosen to keep the U.S. government uninformed about their children’s existence so that the children themselves can decide whether to reveal themselves when they are closer to adulthood and better able to understand the burdens that U.S. citizenship will impose on them. Marvin pointed out a recent letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times which illustrates this widespread phenomenon:
Re “Waiving the U.S. flag,” Oct. 14
The article on American expatriates renouncing their citizenship because of U.S. tax laws hit home.
My daughter was born in the U.S., as were her parents and grandparents. She now lives in Canada. To comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, and to complete her federal Form 1040, she had to spend hundreds on assistance. In the end, she owed no taxes.
My daughter is not a corporate executive or a professional athlete. She is an instructor (not a professor) at a university. She recently gave birth to our granddaughter, who is entitled to U.S. citizenship. She has declined to file the paperwork because she does not want to subject her to the draconian FATCA.
David E. Ross
Finally, on an unrelated topic, those of you who follow @IsaacBrockSoc may notice that this post has a different tagline over on Twitter than it does here:
— Isaac Brock Society (@IsaacBrockSoc) October 20, 2013
Those of you who blog with WordPress can do this with your own posts too — just click the “edit” link under “Publicize” at the right side before you press “Publish”, and then in the “Custom message” box you can edit the tweet that gets posted.
Click “edit” …
|… and then use normal Twitter syntax!|