Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Famous Names Who've Renounced their Citizenships

There has been a growing trend in recent years of American citizens renouncing their citizenship because of strict US laws taxing profits made overseas. Many Americans think that these taxes are a step too far and so renounce their citizenships in order to benefit themselves financially. Of course, it’s not just in the US that this happens but because of the supposed harshness of these tax laws, it has become a prominent example. But ‘handing in your Green Card’ has been used as a statement for hundreds of years; some have immigrated to another country in protest at a war they feel is unjust; others simply didn’t like their birthplace from the start. So, we did a little digging to find some famous names who, for one reason or another, have renounced their citizenships. Could you ever turn your back on your homeland like these people have?

Tina Turner
Tina Turner’s voice is instantly recognisable and it has won her wide acclaim, countless awards and multi-million dollar record deals. Born Mary Proud in Tennessee, Turner was involved in an abusive marriage with Ike Turner for more than 14 years. Eventually, she was able to get herself out of the marriage and started dating Swiss music executive Erwin Bach. She moved to the affluent European country in 1994 to be with her partner and has lived there ever since, renouncing her US citizenship in 2013. With such restrictive tax practices in place in the US, it’s likely that Turner is now able to enjoy her fortunes even more in Switzerland.

Nietzsche is one of the most famous names in Continental philosophy and was, in fact, the inspiration for this list, as he is one of my favourite thinkers. His powerful, profound body of work was confrontational, bold and often extremely innovative. He renounced his Prussian citizenship at the age of 24 and remained ‘stateless’ until his unglamorous death. Being ‘stateless’ was quite fitting of Nietzsche’s philosophy as he wrote extensively about the dangers of following the crowd. In fact, much of Nietzsche’s work refers to his birthplace of Germany as an intolerant, backward place that restricted the ambitions of men. If he thought like that, it’s no wonder he renounced his citizenship so early!

Bobby Fischer
Another brilliant but troubled man, Bobby Fischer was one of the world’s greatest chess players. From the earliest age Fischer would play, study and dream about chess- an obsession that was to lead him to many major honours in his career. His sheer brilliance as a chess player inspired a whole generation of enthusiasts and his talent was used in a fierce US/Soviet chess game that was supposed to prove the intellectual superiority of the victor. Such pressures eventually took their toll on Fischer whose life spiralled out of control, finding himself on the run from US authorities and making horrific anti-Semitic comments. There is some dispute as to whether Fischer actually renounced his US citizenship, as you must be present in order to do so, but, nevertheless, an Icelandic court granted him citizenship and he remained there until his death in 2008.

Elizabeth Taylor
When we think of classic films, we surely can’t ignore the name of Elizabeth Taylor. In her day she was one of the biggest silver screen icons and attracted millions of people with her amazing acting skills. She was born in London to American parents in 1932 but at the age of 33 decided to renounce her US citizenship. Taylor’s life was often turbulent as she struggled to handle the massive amounts of fame that she had gained throughout her career. Her love life was equally turbulent and Taylor was often getting married and divorced. In 1977, she reapplied for US citizenship during her seventh marriage, to Senator John Warner. Well, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

UK Government Divided On Immigration

Britain’s current coalition government is facing a huge division within its ranks, with the latest argument centring around the UK’s immigration policy. The Government is made up of the right-wing Conservative party and the left-of-centre Liberal Democrats, a pairing which has already proved to be uncomfortable for both parties. The Conservatives are keen to appease many British people who fear that immigration is ‘out of control’ in the UK- a wildly exaggerated myth. While on the other hand, the Liberal Democrats are, generally, a pro-European and pro-immigration party, so it’s easy to see how troubles between the two could occur.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, plans to cap immigration to the UK at 75,000 people per year, compared to the current 106,000. This figure has been at the heart of this debate as it seems a completely arbitrary number, designed only to show that the UK was now ‘tough’ on immigration. Unfortunately, very little research has been done into these figures- and the British border force is under constant scrutiny as it has been found to be less-than-adequate in dealing with immigration cases properly. There’s no denying that Britain’s border controls need to be rethought, as countless recent failures have shown, but reducing the total net immigration by almost a quarter is, for Deputy PM Nick Clegg, a step too far.

The Deputy Prime Minister has attacked the move saying it would be both ‘illegal and undeliverable’ and would cause many problems for the UK. He continued, ‘If we pulled up the drawbridge now and said to German lawyers or Finnish engineers or Dutch accountants that they can’t come to work here it would be a disaster for our economy. The City of London would grind to a halt overnight. It would be very, very bad for British business and the health of the economy.’ It is understood that immigrants make up a large share of GDP and are, generally, less likely to take benefits than the average Briton. But this fact seems to escape those in the Conservative party who still want to see immigration numbers slashed.

But the Deputy PM wasn’t just concerned about those who are looking to get into the UK, he said, “I think it would be very unwelcome to the two million or so Brits who live and work abroad who I don’t think would thank the Conservative party for entering into a sort of tit-for-tat race to the bottom.” These are strong words from Nick Clegg, whose party is clearly tired of their Government counterparts’ attacks on UK immigration policy.

The importance of immigration to the UK’s economy and culture should be obvious to anyone. However, an unfortunate side-effect of economic recessions is that people become far more introverted- looking to close off their links to the rest of the world. Britain right now is in the grip of anti-immigrant hysteria and the Conservatives want to appeal to this sentiment by appearing ‘tough on immigration’.

When we elect our representatives, their job is to do what’s in our best interests. Usually this means researching a topic and voting on it in whichever way the MP sees fit. This means that, under a ‘mandate’, the MP can do as he or she pleases on our behalf, with the knowledge that a lot of tough decisions won’t please all the people. But the Tories, right now, are doing the worst possible thing and making knee-jerk policy decisions based on ignorance. Just because a lot of British people want to see a drop in immigration doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. The benefits of an open-minded, progressive immigration policy far outweigh the negatives but until these politicians are brave enough to do what’s right, the UK will have an immigration policy dictated by ignorance and maintained by prejudice.

Strange Customs Seizures

Immigration officers and customs officials have to put up with a lot during their day to day work. Airports around the world bustle with thousands of people arriving and leaving at the same time, and they all have to be checked for contraband. Now, no one likes waiting around at an airport- or waiting generally, for that matter- so these guys have a really tough job in dealing with passengers. What’s likely to make their job even more difficult is when people break the rules, knowingly or not, and hold up the rest of the queue. Over the years, these customs officials must have seen it all, and here’s a little list of some of the stranger things that passengers have tried to get through customs.

Space Cakes
Smuggling marijuana is unsurprisingly not all that rare for customs officials. Thousands of arrests are made at borders every year because of passengers attempting to import or export the drug. Most cases will involve less-than-imaginative techniques and hiding places, such as being hidden in shoes or simply in bags, but one man went the extra mile and disguised his stash as a caked. Almost six pounds’ worth of weed was found under a lot of icing, so it looked like a cake, and was attempted to pass through US customs. The man was caught red-handed and didn’t get a chance to have his cake and eat it too.

Dead Bodies
There can be few things worse than having one of your relatives die on holiday when they’re half way around the world. Aside from the obvious personal troubles that are associated with a relative dying, it’s often very problematic- and expensive- to arrange for a body to be transported home. The cost of this can spiral into the thousands and many people simply can’t afford to do this, which is why so many people try to disguise their relatives’ corpses as living passengers. The smugglers attempt to excuse their travel companions’ strange, quiet behaviour by claiming that they’re asleep or seriously ill. By covering the body in hats, coats, sunglasses and other obvious ‘disguises’, they hope to be able to save thousands at a tragic time.

Action Figures
America’s LAX immigration authorities had to stop an English passenger from boarding a flight when they discovered a gun in her luggage. The woman was completely bewildered and had no idea what the border guards were talking about until they pulled out her son’s G.I. Joe doll along with his tiny replica gun. The joyless officers told the woman that the ‘gun’ fell under the description of a replica firearm and as such she wouldn’t be allowed to take it on. We’re sure that G.I. Joe was saddened to be parted from his rifle but the passenger in the end just had to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the seizure.

Live Crocodiles
Not many of us would like to be in close contact with a crocodile- let alone three! But one Filipino man was determined to ship three of the deadly animals around the world in his bag. He told authorities that the bag contained fish but they soon discovered that he was concealing an all-together more dangerous collection of animals instead. He had already managed to get through several customs checks before he was stopped in Manila. The authorities have no idea how he had even gotten this far on his journey but were glad to stop him before someone, or something, got bitten!

Where Are People Immigrating To?

The most popular immigration destinations are well known – the USA, for example, is traditionally one of the world’s most desirable destinations and is said to be a country ‘built on immigration’. Likewise, Canada and Australia are very popular as immigration countries due to the high quality of life and fantastic job opportunities.

Other countries are perhaps more unexpected – Russia is one of the world’s most popular immigration and emigration countries, with 12 million going to the country and 11 million leaving it. India, too, features in the world’s top 10 immigration and emigration destinations with over 5 million people coming into the country every year and 11 million leaving. Some people may be surprised to learn that the UK is also in the top 10 countries for people emigrating. Almost 216 million people – of 3.15% of the world’s population – live outside their home countries. 8% of these migrants are refugees and displaced from their home.

Most of the top countries for both immigration and emigration can be explained by looking at the world’s most popular ‘migration corridors’ – these are popular routes for migrants to take from their home country to a new one. The most popular in the world is Mexico to the USA, which is also very tightly enforced with a lot of rules to be allowed to pass into the USA. The second and third most popular routes are Russia to the Ukraine, and Ukraine to Russia – the numbers for both these routes are roughly similar since 2010.

While these routes have remained the same since 2010, visa and immigration laws are continually updated and affect whether or not people can actually access the country in the same way. When Canada closed the Federal Skilled Worker route in previous years, which affected the number of people who could come to Canada. Recently, Israel has seen an increase in people immigrating to the country from France, Australia, and New Zealand, while Canadian visas re-opening has also cause a slight increase.

When people take one of the most popular immigration routes, they need to remember that they have to follow the latest rules. Visa legislation in a lot of countries means that migrants are often in competition with each other, and getting the right number of points or making a better case for immigration can spell the difference between success and failure in an application.