Frightened by shootings, appalled at Trump, Americans are voting with their feet — to leave

Frightened by shootings, appalled at Trump, Americans are voting with their feet — to leave


Eleanor Pelta has secured Polish passports for herself and her two sons. Stephanie Schwab is planning an escape route via Spain. Elie Jacobs has begun to keep enough cash on hand to buy last-minute plane tickets to Israel for his family. Alex and Aussa Lorens are applying for work visas in Australia, while Josh Lewin is aiming for New Zealand.

And Kami Lewis Levin already has her bags packed and tickets purchased. She leaves next week, with her husband, three children and a dog, for a new home in Costa Rica.

Americans are not flocking to the exits, but some of them are thinking about it, and some are talking about it, and at least a few are acting on the idea. Google searches for terms like “how to move out of America” spiked this past weekend to levels not seen since November 2016, right after the presidential election, and last seen a decade ago during the Great Recession. And in dozens of interviews after the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, people who were born here spoke of their crystallizing desire to leave.

These are not recent immigrants who feel threatened by nationalist rhetoric coming from the White House and Congress, but for the most part middle-class or relatively affluent Americans disheartened by the turn in American politics since the 2016 election. And it is not necessarily Canada — the default destination for agitated Americans over the decades — where they are threatening to move, because work visa qualifications there are tight. Instead, they are casting a larger net across the globe.

“The text-message threads and FB message threads have surged with questions about how and when to leave,” said Jacobs, a 41-year-old public affairs consultant who lives in New Jersey with his wife and toddler, and who began looking to Israel as an “escape hatch” as soon as Donald Trump was elected, but whose stockpiling of cash took on new urgency this week. READ MORE