Thursday, May 17, 2012

Having Renounced Citizenship, Eduardo Saverin May Not Be Allowed to Return to United States

Facebook's co-founder, billionaire Eduardo Saverin, moved to this country at the age of 13 and later became a United States citizen. While here as a young man he became unimaginably wealthy. Recently he moved to Singapore and renounced his American citizenship, reportedly because he wished to avoid paying capital gains taxes. If this was his reason for giving up his citizenship, federal law may not permit him to return to the United States.

Earlier today Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo posted Facebook's Eduardo Saverin Likely Barred from Re-Entering U.S. (May 17, 2012). Kapur cites relevant provisions of the United States Code and quotes immigration experts to the effect that Saverin may not be permitted to return here.

People have the legal right to renounce their citizenship. 8 U.S.C.  1481(a)(5) provides:

A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality: ...making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.
Another provision of federal law (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(10)(E)) provides that if a person renounces United States citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes, that person is "inadmissible" to the United States:
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, aliens who are inadmissible under the following paragraphs are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States: ... Any alien who is a former citizen of the United States who officially renounces United States citizenship and who is determined by the Attorney General to have renounced United States citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxation by the United States is inadmissible.
How do you feel when you sing the National Anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance? What goes through your mind when you listen to the second sentence of the Declaration or the Gettysburg Address? What is in your heart when you see Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, or the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial? For Saverin, the answer is evidently "nothing." For him, these apparently have no meaning.

United States citizenship is a sacred privilege. Our ancestors sacrificed by leaving their homes to come to this country - they fought for this nation, many giving their lives - and every American citizen has the responsibility to obey the law, serve on juries, and pay taxes so that we may preserve this society for ourselves and our posterity. If Saverin feels no pride in being a constituent member of what has been the greatest beacon of freedom and opportunity on earth - if he feels no obligation to support the society that made it possible for him to prosper - if he does not wish to confer United States citizenship upon his children - then he has made the right choice. May he find happiness in Singapore. Live long and prosper, Saverin - but never again set foot on our soil. 

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