These Birthright Citizens Welcome Trump's Citizenship Rollback

(Bloomberg) -- There’s one group of birthright citizens who are happy that President Donald Trump wants to end automatic citizenship for those born to non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants on U.S. soil.

“The Association of Accidental Americans is delighted that President Trump has opened a debate on ‘right of soil’ citizenship,” Fabien Lehagre, head of the France-based association said in an email to Bloomberg.

Lehagre’s group represents an estimated 10,000 French who were born in the U.S. but returned to France as infants, only to find out years later that the Internal Revenue Service or their banks were claiming they were subject to U.S. taxes. He’s written to Trump and members of Congress seeking a cost-free way to renounce their citizenship, which they say they never asked for and which some didn’t even know they had.

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he plans to sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil. While Trump is wrong to claim that the U.S. is the only country with birthright citizenship -- most of the Americas including Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina have similar laws -- the U.S. is the only advanced economy to systematically tax its citizens who reside abroad.

The 2017 Republican tax law didn’t help members of Lehagre’s association. While the overhaul shifted the U.S. to a system of territoriality for corporations, where they only face taxes where their income is earned, the law maintained the system of generally taxing U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, on their income.

The European Parliament estimates there could be as many as 300,000 such “Accidental Americans” throughout the EU.

They’ve been swept up in Fatca, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a 2010 measure forcing banks worldwide to scour client lists and report anyone who could be a U.S. citizen, or face being barred from operating in the country. Fatca was passed in the aftermath of scandals involving Swiss banks helping wealthy Americans avoid taxes, but has ensnared millions of U.S. citizens of modest means.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.