In 1973, AARO was founded essentially under the impulse of a woman deeply concerned that Americans living abroad faced major problems in maintaining and transmitting their citizenship and, while they were subject to taxation by the IRS, did not have the right to vote in American elections unless they were also residents of the United States – Phyllis Michaux’s story about those first days is a dramatic one!
According to its statutes, AARO’s prime mission is advocacy:
Article 2 — Purpose
AARO’s purpose is to create and maintain ties among American citizens located in and/or residents of countries other than the United States, with no regard for their political preferences or party affiliations, in order to:
• Unite their efforts to promote, assert, obtain and safeguard their social, civil and fiscal rights under U.S. law;
• Undertake all actions, through all legal means, regarding the recognition of those rights of which they may find themselves deprived due to their absence from the United States;
• Educate and inform (i) overseas Americans of their rights and responsibilities as American citizens and (ii) the American Federal and state governments about the nature of the American population abroad and about their needs and views.
The Association’s means of action are:
• Lobbying Congress and the Administration about issues affecting Americans abroad;
• Seminars, conferences and other events;
• Research and publication of documents and news;
• Collaboration with and membership in other organizations with similar purposes;
• Undertaking all means of action that the Board of Directors should deem useful in the realization of its purpose.
AARO policy is discussed and voted on by the Board of Directors at their monthly meetings and the full membership is regularly consulted on important issues.
The new association’s first campaign was to fight for voting rights for the overseas community and since that time, it has taken up a series of new challenges which it has fought for with vigor, if not always totally successfully. It does have a number of successes to point to, however, and has, on many occasions, gone to Washington to speak on behalf of the growing numbers of Americans living and working abroad.
Since 2002, AARO has been an organizer of and participant in annual “Overseas Americans Weeks”, when representatives talk to legislators and policy-makers about issues directly affecting the overseas community. The issues listed in this section are those on which AARO has historically focused most closely.
We welcome new ideas, feedback and, just as importantly, new advocates!