A sad story running on my political news web site today says the number of Americans who renounce their citizenship has increased fivefold in recent years.
Last year, 2,999 people renounced their citizenship as Americans or terminated permanent residency in the United States.
Some traditionally abandon citizenship to evade taxes but the jump has little to do with the taxman cometh. Others were “accidental Americans” by birth and never felt welcome or part of this country.
Others are just plain mad at the American government and walk away from their citizenship in protest. America, still others say, is not a welcome place to live if you are a member of the minority.
“When you think about who I am as a black guy in the U.S., I didn’t have opportunities,” Quincy Davis III told Adam Geller of the Associated Press. A college basketball star at Tulane, he played professional basketball in Europe before landing a spot on a Taiwan pro squad.
“We get discriminated against over there in the South,” Davis says of the United States. “Here (in Taiwan), 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.”
Money still plays a role for many. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin turned in his American passport in 2011 and moved to Singapore to avoid millions in taxes just before Facebook went public.
Quincy Davis left America because racism made his birth nation a place where he did not feel welcome. Saverin left because his money was all too welcome as long as it was in the hands of the Internal Revenue Service.
It can be said that one left through pride and the other for greed. But questions remain about them and the 2,999 people who gave up their citizenship last year and the thousands who left America behind before then.
Millions once envied American and sought to be become residents and citizens. But is America today a place that slams its doors on those we once welcomed with open arms? Even worse, has it become an intolerable place for others who were born here but encountered too much racism, bigotry and intolerance?
As an American who would never, ever, renounce his citizenship, it saddens me to see those who do. Even sadder, though, are those in government and our society who appear determined to both drive more away or lock out those who seek home and refuge here.