Joel Slater, the Stateless Man

It's pretty common to hear people say that they're so disgusted with American politics that they're going to move to Canada and renounce their U.S. citizenship... especially if candidate X or Y wins the election. But people almost never follow through with this threat/promise.

But Joel Slater did. Back in the Reagan era (1987), he became so angry at U.S. policies that he decided to renounce his American citizenship. The problem was that he did this without first arranging to acquire citizenship in another country. So he made himself stateless.

He was in Australia when he renounced his citizenship, and had assumed he would be able to stay there. But no, Australia promptly deported him to the U.S. Then, as a stateless person, he discovered that he was effectively trapped in the U.S. because he couldn't travel anywhere else without a passport. He managed to make it into Canada and Mexico a few times without a passport, but they both eventually shipped him back to the States. He also couldn't legally work without a social security number. So he became homeless, surviving on "odd jobs and the generosity of strangers."

After much begging and pleading, he was able to regain his U.S. citizenship in 1993.

More info: wikipedia

Slater showing off his "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States"
Source: Arizona Republic - Mar 17, 1991

Indianapolis Star - Nov 27, 1992

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 04, 2016
     Category: Politics | Reformers, Do-gooders, Agitators and SJWs | Riots, Protests and Civil Disobedience | 1980s

Sic semper hippies.
Posted by Virtual on 06/04/16 at 12:59 PM
Back in the day, "The Man Without A Country" was required reading. Looks like someone should have paid attention in school!
Posted by Eric Brown on 06/04/16 at 04:14 PM
There are lots of other ways to become stateless. One recent example is the breakup of the Soviet Union. I know of someone who was born in Ukraine shortly after the breakup but was brought to Moldova. As a toddler, she had a Moldovan passport (issued on USSR stock) that had stamped on it that she was stateless.
Posted by ges on 06/05/16 at 10:11 AM
When my grandmother came to the U.S. from Ireland she was a British citizen, however unwillingly, and traveled on a British passport. She went back to Ireland once, in the 1960s. She discovered that since she had started the paperwork to become a U.S. citizen, but had never finished the process, she was not a U.S. citizen and couldn't travel on a U.S. passport. The British wouldn't give her a passport and her old British passport had long expired. Ireland finally gave her a passport, even though she had never been a citizen of that country because she had left before Ireland gained its independence, as otherwise she had no way to travel to Ireland.
Posted by Jim on 06/06/16 at 09:05 AM
When I naturalized in 1985, there were about half a dozen people who declared their previous citizenship to be "stateless". Judging from their accents, I assumed that they were refugees from the USSR.

It is possible to renounce British citizenship. You have to go to a Consular Office and swear out the appropriate stuff, and then return in 24 hours and do it again, apparently to avoid problems with people being drunk and ticked off with Her Majesty's government.
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 06/06/16 at 09:40 AM
This should be a requirement for anyone with US citizenship claiming to be a "Sovereign" citizen... simply revoke their US citizenship! Then they truly will be "Stateless" and sovereign (and likely jobless, etc. like in the story provided), and let's see how long they will put up with that!
Posted by Kyle Morgan on 06/06/16 at 12:18 PM
I've heard that a lot of ex-pats have been renouncing citizenship, probably due to increased scrutiny of US taxes.
Posted by RobK on 06/06/16 at 01:42 PM
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