An Open Letter to Secretary of the Treasury Yellen, on behalf of the International Chair of Democrats Abroad and the Chair of the Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force
Dear Madam Secretary,
On behalf of the millions of U.S. Citizens living overseas, Democrats Abroad wants to welcome you on your first trip abroad as Secretary of the Treasury. After four years of being frequently embarrassed by the actions of our own government, we are overjoyed to again feel a sense of pride when a brilliant, competent American official visits one of the foreign capitals in which many of us reside. Democrats Abroad was honored to play an integral part in electing the Biden-Harris administration, and we look forward to continuing our work to support your policy agenda. We are especially excited by your plans to encourage fellow G7 ministers to institute a global minimum corporate tax rate to stop the harmful race to the bottom between leading global economies.
Moments like your visit to the G7 are, however, sometimes bittersweet for U.S. citizens abroad. While they foster a sense of pride to be American, they also remind us, as Americans overseas, of the ways in which our constituency is often misunderstood as a group, as well as overlooked when certain policies are designed and implemented.
U.S. citizens overseas seem to be frequently thought of as high-net-worth individuals living a life of luxury in low or no-tax countries, caricatured as fat cats stashing money in the Caymans or in unoccupied West London real estate. In truth, the vast majority of us are middle-class Americans who are studying, working, raising families, and retiring in countries with a higher overall tax burden than the United States. According to research published in 2019, 61 percent of U.S. citizens abroad have a household income of less than $100,000 per year. This misunderstanding of who Americans overseas are has had severe consequences for us.
As Democrats, we strongly believe in the importance of preventing tax evasion and financial crime. However, the policies put in place to achieve these laudable goals have often been designed in a way that causes serious harm to ordinary U.S. citizens living abroad. As a direct result of policies like the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), we are often denied ordinary banking services in the places we live. We are frequently removed from joint accounts we share, putting our financial security in serious jeopardy, and denied employment, promotions, and business partnerships when roles involve signature authority over business accounts in foreign financial institutions.
Given the often prejudicial impact of the tax system on Americans abroad, we hope that the Department of Treasury under your new leadership will keep ordinary Americans living overseas in mind. We know you have the best interests of all Americans at heart, and we look forward to the chance to share some recommendations for ways to help the IRS refashion tax enforcement measures to better catch bad actors while simplifying compliance and providing the intended relief for working class Americans living abroad. We are excited to see what the new era your leadership, as the first female Secretary of the Treasury, will bring to the department, and we wish you every success in your work representing the United States in London.
Taxation Task Force Chair
This letter has been formally submitted to the Office of President Joseph Biden
Dear Mr. President,
We, the International Executive Committee and Country Chairs of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (Democrats Abroad), urge you to enable the swift vaccination of U.S. citizens abroad. While we cheer the rapid and highly effective management of Covid-19 vaccinations within the United States — as well as your March 11 commitment to make FDA-approved vaccines available to every adult U.S. citizen — many U.S. citizens overseas remain unvaccinated, in many cases due to limited availability of vaccines. Although some of us have access to vaccines in our host countries, we all agree that the U.S. government should take appropriate steps to ensure that vaccines are available to all of its citizens worldwide.
As you recently stated, using the United States’ vaccine stockpile to fight the disease around the world is “the right thing to do... the smart thing to do... the strong thing to do.” We respectfully ask that, in implementing this pledge, our government also considers the lives and situations of its own citizens residing outside of the United States and ensures their access to FDA-approved vaccines.Read more
Statement from Candice Kerestan, International Chair of Democrat Abroad, Martha McDevitt-Pugh and Tré Shawn Griffin-Noordermeer, Co-Chairs of the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus
In a victory for American families abroad, the State Department has updated the interpretation and implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) with respect to transmission of citizenship to children. The State Department will now recognize children of same-sex married U.S. citizens who are born abroad as citizens at birth.
The previous State Department policy required that both parents be biologically related to a child in order to transmit citizenship. This unconstitutional policy discriminated against children born abroad, classifying them as “born out of wedlock” even though their parents were legally married.
The updated policy addresses the realities of modern families and takes into account advances in assisted reproduction technologies (ART), which could not have been foreseen when the INA was enacted in 1954.
In a September 2020 letter to Americans Abroad, President Biden committed to rebuild a modern, agile State Department and provide equal treatment with respect to citizenship for children of same-sex couples born abroad.
The updated interpretation of Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act does exactly that.
At a time when LGBTQI rights are under attack at the state level, the Biden administration is making lives better for LGBTQI Americans and their families, both at home and abroad.
Over the weekend, Democrats Abroad leaders from all over the world gathered virtually for the 2021 Annual Global Meeting and Elections. We are very pleased to introduce the newly elected 2021-2023 International Executive Committee:
Chair, Candice Kerestan (Germany)
Vice Chair, Art Schankler (Serbia)
Secretary, Beth Landry (Sweden)
Treasurer, Quyen Nguyen (Colombia)
General Counsel, Orlando Vidal (United Arab Emirates)
Regional Vice Chair, Asia Pacific, Nicholas Gordon (Hong Kong)
Regional Vice Chair, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Jennifer Rakow-Stepper (Austria)
Regional Vice Chair, the Americas, Steve Nardi (Canada)
We want to take this moment to thank outgoing International Executive Committee members for their years of dedication and service, as well as for all that they accomplished during their tenures. We also want to thank all of the other candidates for putting themselves forward, and for their time, energy, ideas, and passion. Finally, we want to thank all of the electors -- which included country chairs, country vice chairs, DPCA voting representatives, DA DNC members, and members of the outgoing International Executive Committee -- for their time, diligence, and attention.
Statement by Angela Fobbs, Global Black Caucus Chair, and Julia Bryan, Democrats Abroad Global Chair
Justice has been delivered to George Floyd and his family, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief - for now.
We must take this moment to not only deliver justice for the dead but to protect the living. We must help make our country a place where we can all breathe freely, a place where the color of our skin does not put us at risk.
Philonise Floyd said after the verdict, "As an African American, we usually never get justice."
This inequality cannot stand.
The House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It is time for the Senate to do so too. Democrats and Republicans must rise to the challenge of our times, unite our United States behind this issue, and transform policing in America.
Our moral compass is bending towards justice. It’s time to put policies in place to make this transformation complete. The time is now.
Take action now - contact your senators today and demand they support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Statement by the Democrats Abroad Global Hispanic Caucus Steering Committee
On March 29, 2021 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by an officer from the Chicago Police Department. Body-worn camera footage was released on Thursday, April 16 showing the shooting.
This tragedy has shown that when it comes to children of color, the presumption of guilt is often prematurely conceived, and often wrong. We as a community mourn the loss of a young boy whose dreams and hopes for the future parallel those of other Latino boys in our families. This atrocity exposes the need for greater assistance for kids of color, the need for social workers in these communities, and above all greater investment in training that would prevent these situations from happening in the first place.
Democrats Abroad extends our heartfelt condolences to the Toledo family during this time of unimaginable pain. We wish them great strength and healing. This is not the first tragedy to arise from police incompetence, incompetence that negatively affects in particular the black members of the Hispanic and Latino community.
This year has been one of grief and fury for underrepresented communities in the United States. We have seen not only a continuation of fatalities, but an escalation in hate crimes and police brutality. The AAPI and African American communities have experienced similar tragedies – a bitter reminder that this struggle is not exclusive to one group.
Across communities in the United States, policies to prevent death by the police are uneven, inadequate, and unacceptable. Improved standards need to be established for use of force and training on these standards must be implemented across the country. The implementation of racial and ethnic respect should be a key component of law enforcement training.
We call for every police officer to be held accountable and for increased meaningful communications between underrepresented communities and law enforcement. We demand an end to the vilification of victims of police violence. We demand protection.
We demand justice for Adam Toledo, and all youth of color.
Statement on the Atlanta Shootings by Democrats Abroad Chair Julia Bryan and the Democrats Abroad Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus
On Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, a gunman killed at least eight individuals and injured others in Atlanta in yet another unspeakable tragedy. Most of the individuals lost are from the Asian American community.
Sadly, this is yet another example of the current threat facing our community. The rise in anti-Asian American violence and hateful rhetoric contributing to that violence in the United States cannot be ignored. Between March 2020 and February 2021, there have been 3,795 hate incidents reported by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in all 50 states and D.C., according to Stop AAPI Hate.
It is clear the derogatory anti-Asian language used throughout the past year continues to have a real-world impact. While President Biden’s condemnation of the violence against Asian Americans in his prime-time address last week is a good start, more political leaders need to speak out against this type of rhetoric and do more to support Asian American communities. More of us need to step up and speak out in our communities to make it clear that hate has no place here. Racist comments should not be brushed aside or ignored, they must be confronted and condemned. If it was not clear before, it is clear now that AAPI communities around the United States are targets of hate.
While this will not solve the racism problem in our country, we must continue to work together to pass common sense gun control legislation. Gun homicide (mass shootings, so-called “everyday” violence, and police-involved shootings) are a universal American threat that only make other social challenges worse.
Call your Senators to tell them to support handgun laws, including S591 and S763, which expand background checks.
Democrats Abroad condemns these acts of violence. We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community and our AAPI Democrats Abroad members. We must work together to speak out and stand up against this type of hate. These hate crimes must be taken seriously and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hate against any of us affects us all.
We extend our deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones to last night’s shootings. We stand with you, we hear you, and we will fight with you to combat this wave of hatred and violence.
Democrats Abroad Chair Julia Bryan
Democrats Abroad Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus Co-Chairs Cory Lemke and Emily Lines
Call for Nominations:
Democrats Abroad Regional Vice Chair Asia Pacific
We are now accepting nominations for the bi-annual election of Regional Vice Chair (RVC) for the Asia Pacific (AP) region! This election will take place during the AP Regional Meeting on the 16th of May as part of the Democrats Abroad Global Meeting. One vote is allocated to each AP country committee and will be cast solely by country committee chairs and vice chairs. The chair and vice chair each carry ½ vote. If either is not present, the other will carry the full vote.
Democrats Abroad has three RVCs, one for each region, who:
- Are elected to a two year term that begins and ends with the regional election.
- Cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.
- Serve as one of 8 voting members of the International Executive Committee. Meetings are currently held weekly and typically last from two to three hours, but this is subject to change with the new leadership.
- Organize and lead monthly regional calls of about one to two hours to encourage, inform, and create a sense of community among regional country committees.
- Organize and lead a one to three day annual regional meeting to encourage, inform, and create a sense of community among regional country committees. When practical, these annual meetings are held as in-person events with remote participation available.
- Act as a liaison between the International Executive Committee and one or more of the Democrats Abroad committees, lending a hand to the committee chair and assuming chair responsibilities should that position not be filled.
- Assist in organizing and attend the annual Democrats Abroad Global Meeting, preferably in person when conditions allow. Note that travel costs are the responsibility of the RVC.
- Work with existing country committees to mediate and resolve issues within their committees including election issues, membership queries, etc.
- Track compliance status of country committees with Charter requirements and work with emerging and out-of-compliance countries to help bring them into compliance.
- Communicate International Executive Committee decisions, policies, and Democrats Abroad best practices to the country committee leaders.
- Bring regional issues to the International Executive Committee for discussion and resolution.
The eligibility requirements for AP RVC are as follows:
- Be a citizen of the United States.
- Be a member of Democrats Abroad residing within a country in the Asia Pacific region.
- Adhere to the principles of the Democratic Party of the United States.
- Due to the extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of the AP region who are temporarily residing outside of their country of residence due to the pandemic may still run for AP RVC (example: resident of Singapore who is temporarily residing in France due to quarantines and travel restrictions). There must be an intent to return to the AP region following the lift of travel restrictions.
Self-nominations and nominations of others are both welcomed and encouraged! Please submit any nominations via the nomination form at this link no later than 23 March 11:59 PM EDT (UTC-4). Each nominee is required to accept their nomination no later than 31 March 11:59 PM EDT (UTC-4). Nominations from the floor of the election meeting will be accepted as well, and all official candidates will be given time to make a short speech.
A list of candidates will be released on 1 April following the nomination acceptance deadline.
Please direct any questions to [email protected].
On behalf of the 2021 AP Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC),
Anthony Nitz (Vietnam, Chair)
Christine Valverde (New Zealand)
Michael Ramos (Australia)
Phong Quan (Singapore)
Statement from Global Chair of Democrats Abroad Julia Bryan, Global LGBTQ+ Caucus Co-Chairs Martha McDevitt-Pugh and Tre' Shawn Griffin-Noordermeer, and Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus Co-Chairs Bob Gould and Erin Watson
We welcome the swift action today by President Biden to fulfill on his campaign promise to undo the unjust exclusion of transgender individuals from military service.
Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform provides a single standard. Affirming the eligibility of individuals who identify as transgender to enter and serve in their self-identified gender is the right thing to do.
The Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus and Veterans and Military Families Caucus looks forward to working with the Biden administration to forward equality throughout our nation and in the world.
"We answered the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch but thrived."
Thank you to the thousands of Democrats Abroad volunteers and voters around the world who answered the call of history, who stood up to tyranny, and who helped ensure that hundreds of thousands of Americans abroad could use the most important tool democracy provides us - our vote. You helped make this happen and we only wish we could be together on this momentous day as we raise a toast to our new President and Vice President, to Democracy and hope, truth and justice.