Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – A small group of Americans met informally with their new ambassador, Donald Beyer, Thursday 12 November, the first such meeting in Geneva in some 20 years, according to the members of American Citizens Abroad (an international organization based in Geneva) who participated. The discussions were wide-ranging and included:
- lack of representation, since US citizens who are now resident in another country may no longer have a state
- concerns about children of US citizens who are unable to get passports and who in some cases are stateless as a result
- tax and banking dilemmas of many citizens abroad, especially retired people, in the wake of new IRS guidelines in recent months
- problems with voting from abroad which is based on a person’s last address in the US
- concerns that young Americans overseas see their citizenship as a burden rather than an asset
- worries that fewer international companies are interested in having Americans as senior managers, with a resulting loss to US competitiveness
- options for creating a service, office, representative group or other means of giving overseas Americans a political voice, noting that several other countries actively seek the input of their citizens abroad, while the US does not.
The group, which shared numerous anecdotes to illustrate dilemmas familiar to Americans who have long lived abroad, had asked Beyer to meet with them as part of efforts to improve relations between the US government and its citizens overseas, which they perceive as having deteriorated badly in recent years.
“You’re really one of us!” Andy Sundberg, founder of ACA exclaimed when Beyer laughingly shared a story about the problems he had filling out a goverment form after he was appointed ambassador. He was born in Trieste in 1950 to American parents. His father was a military man and the family soon after moved to West Point, where Beyer spent his early years. But the government form refused to accept his lack of detail about how he became naturalized. His mother has been dead for several years and when he phoned his 85-year-old father to ask, the older man said he didn’t know how he could be expected to remember something that happened so long ago.