Data shows Americans giving up right to live in US doubled ahead of US election

A pandemic, civil unrest, and a bitter election have many looking beyond America for their next home

Josh Marcus
Wednesday 04 November 2020 09:02
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 A Delta plane taxis on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia
A Delta plane taxis on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia

It’s not uncommon around election season to hear Americans joke about packing up and moving to Canada or somewhere else further afield. This time, they mean it: immigration experts and government data show a huge spike in Americans trying to leave the country and settle somewhere else, the Washington Post reports.

More than twice as many Americans gave up their citizenship or residency in 2020 than in 2019, 5,816 in the first six months alone, amid a year that’s seen a raging pandemic, mass civil unrest, and a bitter presidential election. Many of those leaving are wealthy people who can do their jobs remotely. 

Heather Segal, a Canadian immigration attorney, told the Post her phone started ringing off the hook after the president hesitated to condemn white supremacists during the first presidential debate in September.

“I had call, after call, after call — so many that one day I felt like an immigration attorney in 1939 Germany,” Segal told the paper. “People start telling me their stories, saying they feel unsafe, exhausted, like they are almost pleading their case.”

The German, French and Australian embassies in Washington also reported a notable bump in visa applications, largely from dual citizen marriages, while websites dedicated to international living saw similar spikes.

Sienna J. Brown, who founded a website dedicated to teaching women of color how to move abroad, said she saw a wave of new members after police killed George Floyd.

“Unfortunately, the country we were born in doesn’t have our best interest in mind, they’ve decided that it’s time for a change, to move to a new location where they are able to not just survive but thrive,” Ms Brown told the Post an email.

Others reported being motivated by concerns about how Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s elevation to the Supreme Court could impact same-sex marriage, as well as the US’s disastrous coronavirus response.

Some might want to leave, but many countries have restricted how and if Americans can enter the country due to the country’s response to coronavirus, which ranks among the worst in the world.

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