Celebrities say they’re leaving the US, but strangely enough, they’re still here…

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Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told fans at a London concert that he was giving up his citizenship. Don’t bet on it.

Armstrong is no stranger to preening wakefulness. He also “threatened” to leave the US when President Trump was in charge, as did many other left-wing celebs – Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, Lena Dunham and Cher, to name a few. But oddly enough, they’re all still here.

Armstrong is certainly entitled to renounce his citizenship. Several thousand Americans do this each year, though rarely for the reasons given by the singer best known for “American Idiot.” But Armstrong would swim against the tide. In a typical year, more than 800,000 foreign-born people are happily sworn in as citizens of the United States. I was one of them many years ago.

GREEN DAY’S BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG SAYS HE’S RENDING HIS US CITIZENSHIP: “F—AMERICA”

Despite all the whims of the last 25 years – from 9/11 to wars, economic crises and pandemics – the desire to come to America has never dried up.

That’s because people overseas, while not all at home, understand that America is still a unique land of opportunity and hope, where personal diligence is more likely to lead to success and fulfillment than anywhere else.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong performs on September 6, 2017 in Orange Beach, Alabama.
(Michael Chang/WireImage)

But what about this well-publicized onslaught of liberals eager to escape Trump’s “fascist state”? Newsweek debunked this myth nearly two years ago. The fact is that there are always people who want to give up their citizenship.

Many of them are people who have lived abroad for years, even decades, and just haven’t gotten around to it yet. The main obstacle is that appointments at US consulates abroad are difficult to obtain and the process takes time and money.

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Renouncing citizenship carries a fee of $2,350, and those living abroad must complete the matter (which requires at least two face-to-face meetings) at a US embassy in their country of residence. When the State Department prioritizes such appointments, waiting times drop quickly.

Billie Joe Armstrong

However, when services were suspended due to COVID, cases of loss of citizenship were a low priority for embassies and consulates. Even now, the US Embassy in Paris says the current interview wait time is “12 to 18 months,” and the London Embassy says “the wait time for an appointment has increased significantly.”

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As a consular officer, I have handled a handful of waiver cases. I’ve found that people have different reasons for this. Some are wealthy and want to escape high US tax rates. Others want to get out of onerous laws like the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) of 2010, which requires Americans resident abroad to file annual tax returns and report all of their foreign income, bank accounts, and investments. Foreign banks are so wary of penalties for non-compliance with FATCA that many Americans refuse to open an account, making life abroad seriously difficult.

Green Day (Getty Images)

Other “renouncers” are such as a French friend of mine who was born in California when his father was a graduate student and unknowingly became a US citizen due to the 14th Amendment. These are a type of reverse anchor babies; Although they had no intention of becoming an American, they are still bound by our rules, which include the obligation to enter the US only with an American passport, to register for the draft and to file FATCA reports.

Others are naturalized Americans who choose to return home years later. Actress Elizabeth Taylor or Carnival Cruises owner Ted Arison fit into this category, and the IRS listing for the most recent quarter suggests that some of our recent waivers do as well.

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The most common reasons for renouncing citizenship are personal or commercial, not ideological. In my experience, these are very rare.

Celeb promises to leave due to politics are so much hot air. Every three months, the IRS publishes a list of Americans who have renounced their citizenship. Of the famous people who usually claimed on stage or on social media (which is a stage) that they would give up their citizenship if Trump won, none really seem to be doing it.

There’s nothing stopping Billie Joe or anyone else from giving up their American citizenship – it’s a free country. I and millions of other naturalized citizens are happy to be here, even in difficult times.

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

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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I worked with hundreds of Foreign Service personnel in the field on posts from Fiji to Togo, and one of my happiest assignments was approving the special immigrant visas for staff who had worked for the embassy for 20 years or more. In their applications, almost all cited freedom, economic opportunities and a better future for their children as reasons for packing up their families late in life and starting all over again.

America’s promise today is not perfection. It is the promise of a more perfect union, and delivering on that promise is a collective task. Naturalized Americans were happy to choose to take on this challenge, and if the game doesn’t go our way, we don’t threaten to grab our toys and go home.

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