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The swearing in of new citizens often makes news in the U.S., especially if it happens in unusual circumstances such as one party’s national convention. Much less reported are the many citizenship renunciations by Americans, and the travails leading up to these life decisions. Almost all those giving up their U.S. nationality are expats. And for each renouncer going through the ordeal, there are countless others thinking about it. Why?

One recent press release in particular has caused quite a stir. It suggested that, after “a steep decline” in recent years, renunciations in the first half of this year soared to 5,816, more than twice as many as gave up their passport in all of 2019. The implication, as reported breathlessly in the American media, was that expats, already fed up with President Donald Trump, finally despaired over his mishandling of COVID-19 and quit. Other factors were cited as merely secondary.

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