Don't let the border slam you on the way out...


I spend my day helping people come to, or stay in, the United States.  (I also watch a lot of old Law and Order re-runs, but only between clients.) Some Americans tend to have a negative view about immigration, even though they make sure to define it as “illegal immigration.” That’s actually an interesting distinction, particularly when there is no current ‘legal’ way to immigrate that doesn’t take years unless, of course, you are a human rights activist from China in which case you can shame the United States into letting you in.

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A now undocumented immigrant


It is therefore strange for me to see someone who, having benefitted from living and working in this country for over a decade, decides to renounce the one thing that most of my clients would pay a king’s ransom for:  United States citizenship.  Interestingly enough, Edoardo Saverin has renounced his citizenship so that he could keep his own king’s ransom, billions of dollars that fell into his lap as a result of his involvement with Facebook.


Saverin was sympathetically portrayed in the movie “The Social Network” as the abused and abandoned friend of Mark Zuckerburg.  He has apparently parlayed that story into billions, and was unwilling to part with a few million in taxes that he would have owed to the U.S. government.


So, Saverin gave up the red white and blue, all the while embracing his native land of Brazil (and his new favorite country-of-the-heart Singapore, where they are much more lenient about taxes.)


That might be legal in tax circles.  However, it is neither ethical, nor is it wise if he ever wants to come back to visit his friend Mark in California.  That’s because the immigration laws ban anyone who has renounced their citizenship to avoid paying taxes from coming back to the United States, at least not on a permanent basis.  Savarin must realize this, because he’s now playing word games and trying to prove that money wasn’t his actual motive.


Too late.  Uncle Sam just ‘un-friended’ him.