The Association of Accidental Americans (AAA shortened) is an expat group suing the US State Department. Along with nine plaintiffs, the organization filed a lawsuit after the government’s cancellation of the Voluntary Expatriate Services throughout its multiple global diplomatic missions.
AAA is a French-based registered non-profit organization. It represents individuals who were born in US territory accidentally, and are thus considered US citizens. As for the cancellation, the plaintiff’s state that it equates to a constitutional violation, as it isn’t justifiable, even with the current COVID outbreak.
Citizens Forced to be American
In a recent press statement, the plaintiffs maintained their stance on renouncing US nationality. They see it as a natural, inherent, and fundamental right protected by the constitution. With that, the Department of State’s suspension has forced the plaintiffs to remain citizens by force.
While it’s understandable that most US residents value their citizenship, AAA has outlined that for many Americans abroad, their citizenship has become a financial drain and a liability.
The statement also touched on expat financial status ever since FATCA was passed. AAA sees that many financial institutions treat abroad US citizens a pariahs. In fact, US citizens abroad have had their bank accounts closed or frozen in many countries. Also, many bank will refuse basic services to American citizens, while enforcing high limitations on requirements for those services.
Plus, unlike citizens residing within US territory, Americans overseas have many of their privacy rights violated.
The US department’s suspension of the service comes at an odd time though. With the pandemic in effect, many US citizens are attempting to renounce their passports, freeing themselves from the limitations imposed by US authorities. With that, the suspension seems to be a measure that curtails renunciation attempts.
Case of Discrimination
The AAA’s press release stresses that COVID-19 is not a reason to suspend the renunciation process. This comes in light of the fact that the US is restarting its non-immigrant visa service at many nations, even with the pandemic in effect.
The AAA views that as an act of discrimination, mentioning that it makes “a mockery of American citizenship.”
Even in the rare instances when those services aren’t cancelled, US authorities will force a multi-month waiting time simply for a renunciation oath appointment – assuming the appointments are even maintained. This alone is seen by the AAA as a violation of 5th amendment rights.
President and founder of AAA Fabien Lehagre has decried the government’s actions as “placing heavy burdens on US citizens abroad.” Lehagre see that US government had already violated that right by forcing a $2350 fee simply to exercise it. Even the high fee is being challenged in court by AAA, which if successful, should curb further restrictions to US citizen renunciation.
The current lawsuit isn’t the first launched by AAA. It’s the second against the state department. The first was to challenge the fees required to exercise the right (which was free before FATCA was launched). The second aims to resume the service itself.