Home Celebrity Celebrities say they’ll leave US but curiously, they’re still here…

Celebrities say they’ll leave US but curiously, they’re still here…


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Green Day frontman Billy Joe Armstrong told fans at a concert in London that he would renounce his citizenship after the Supreme Court ruled against Dobbs. Don’t bet on it.

Armstrong is no stranger to dressing up sober. When President Trump was in power, he also “threatened” to leave the country, as did many other left-handed celebrities – Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, Lena Dunham and Cher, to name just a few a few cases. However, oddly enough, they’re all still here.

Armstrong certainly has the right to renounce his citizenship. Thousands of Americans do it every year, though rarely for the reasons the singer best known as “American Idiot” offers. But Armstrong will go upstream. In a typical year, more than 800,000 foreign-born individuals happily take the oath of citizenship. Many years ago, I was one of them.

GREEN DAY’s BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG says he’s giving up US citizenship: “F— AMERICA”

Despite the vagaries of the past 25 years—from 9/11 to wars, economic collapses, and pandemics—the desire to come to America has never dried up.

That’s because people abroad understand, if not everyone at home, that America remains a unique place of opportunity and hope, and that individual careers are more likely to bring success and fulfillment than anywhere else.

FILE - Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the Pier Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Alabama on September 6, 2017.

FILE – Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the Pier Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Alabama on September 6, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Zhang/WireImage)

But what about the stampede of liberals who are widely known to be eager to escape Trump’s “fascist state”? Newsweek debunked this myth nearly two years ago. In fact, there is always a steady stream of people who want to renounce their citizenship.

Many of them have been living abroad for years or even decades without having been in contact with them before. The main hurdle is that appointments at U.S. consulates abroad are hard to come by, and the process takes time and money.

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There is a $2,350 fee to renounce citizenship, and those living abroad must process the matter at the U.S. embassy in their country of residence (this requires at least two personal interviews). When the State Department prioritizes such appointments, wait times can quickly shrink.

Billy Joe Armstrong

However, when services are closed due to COVID, cases of loss of citizenship are a secondary priority for embassies and consulates. Even now, the U.S. embassy in Paris says the current wait time for an interview is “12-18 months,” and the embassy in London says “the wait for an appointment has increased significantly.”

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As a consular officer, I have handled some abandonment cases. I find that people do this for all sorts of reasons. Some are wealthy and want to escape the high tax rates in the United States. Others want to get rid of onerous laws, such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 (FACTA), which requires Americans living abroad to file annual tax returns and report all their foreign income, bank accounts and invest. Foreign banks are so cautious about penalties for failing to comply with FATCA that many refuse to allow Americans to open accounts, which severely affects life abroad.

Documents - Green Day

Other “waivers” include those, such as a French friend of mine who was born in California when his father was in graduate school and unknowingly became a US citizen due to the 14th Amendment. These are a kind of reverse-anchored babies; even though they have no intention of becoming American, they are still bound by our rules, which include the requirement to use only a US passport to enter the United States, register a draft, and file a FATCA report.

Others are naturalized Americans who choose to return after many years. Actress Elizabeth Taylor or Carnival Cruises owner Ted Arison fall into this category, and last quarter’s list from the IRS suggests that some of our recent abandoners fall into this category as well.

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The most common motivations for renunciation of citizenship are personal or corrupt, not ideological. In my experience these are very rare.

Celebrity pledges to leave are such a hot topic for political reasons. Every three months, the IRS publishes a list of Americans who have renounced their citizenship. Among the celebrities who usually claim on stage or on social media (which is a stage) that they will renounce their citizenship if Trump wins, none seem to actually do it.

Nothing will stop Billie Joel or anyone else from giving up their U.S. citizenship – it’s a free country. As for me and the millions of other naturalized citizens, we are happy to be here, even in trying times.

I prefer the naturalized Somali-American Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Why the West is Best” to my Anglo-American John Oliver’s “The Decline of the American Empire.”

Iyan Hussey Ali

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From Fiji to Togo, I have worked with hundreds of local staff in the Diplomatic Service, and one of my happiest responsibilities has been approving special immigrant visas for staff who have worked in embassies for 20 years or more. In their applications, nearly all cited freedom, economic opportunity and a brighter future for their children as reasons to pack up and start over in their later years.

America’s commitment is not perfect today. It is a promise of a better union, and delivering on that promise is a collective task. Naturalized Americans are happy to take the challenge, and we don’t threaten to take our toys home when the game doesn’t go well.

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