Why are passports so powerful?


Trump’s travel ban has really got me thinking about the power of a passport and how severely it determines everyone’s freedom of movement. While being able to travel is a privilege in itself, our place of birth within man made borders decides the fate of how we live our lives.

Anybody who was born in six countries are not allowed to travel to the United States. Why? Because people who are fleeing war and persecution are dangerous. Makes sense.

This travel ban is ridiculous and serves no productive purpose. I will most likely never be stopped from entering any country in the world, but that is only because my mother just happened to be in within these borders we call New Zealand in the moment I arrived on the planet. It also means no one can tell me to leave this country as a person with brown skin whose ancestors came from India.

The amount of privilege my passport gives me is not fair. I’m starting to hate using that argument, ‘but I was born here’, because what does that mean for people who weren’t? I really struggle with the idea that we have to justify our right to live where we want.

It’s messed up that my black passport allows me to hop on a plane and go almost anywhere in the world with little questioning, while people from other parts of the world have to go through so much bureaucratic nonsense just to be able to go on a holiday.

I’m not saying that all borders should be open to everyone all the time. I don’t think that is practical either and every country has the right to protect their people. We also need to make sure our infrastructure is designed to properly care for the amount of people that want to come here. But surely there are better vetting systems than nationality as the primary factor. Why am I less of a threat than someone else just because I was born in New Zealand and they were born in Iraq?

And this isn’t just Western ‘white’ countries that have unfair immigration rules based on citizenship. Countries like Qatar and the Emirates use indentured labour from Asia but anyone from those same ethnic backgrounds that live in the West have very little issues when going there to work. In fact, they’re worse because no one can have citizenship in those countries. People of colour can be so disgustingly racist and power hungry.

International relations and globalisation is incredibly complicated and perhaps I have over simplified it. But political motivations, and warped ideas around nation states and security should not dictate how some people travel the world more freely than others. What even is a passport?


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