31 January 2017

When America Stooped So Low

By now you probably have heard of the travel ban that the United States instituted against citizens of 7 majority Muslim countries. Citizens of these 7 countries would not be allowed to enter the United States, even if they hold a valid visa. Not only that, people who are citizens falling under the visa-waiver program who also happen to be dual citizens of these countries are also affected. And it seems that other people, who simply have visas issued by these 7 countries, would also be affected, as is evident by the case of this Australian man, who was detained in Los Angeles International Airport for 14 hours, and then deported back to Australia, simply because he had an Iranian visa on his passport.

So it seems like I won't be able to visit the United States for the time being.

It would have been easy to brush that off and say Meh, there are plenty of other countries out there to visit. Except I have family there. Except I have close friends there. Except I have close personal ties, that no matter how much I disagree with the government, I would find myself going there over and over again, that is, until the government does not allow me in anymore.

The thing is, travel bans aren't new. Countries have been doing it for the longest time. Heck, even the visa system is a sort of travel ban, as basically a visa is a way of barring people who do not satisfy a particular requirement, whether that be sufficient funds, or insurance, or anything that can be rectified. The difference with the US travel ban however is that it is citizenship-based, and that is something you cannot rectify. How can you cease being a citizen of your country? Yes, acquiring a new citizenship is possible, yet for most of us, impractical.

And yes, I know that travel bans based on citizenship have always existed. Azerbaijan bars Armenians from entering their country. Countries participating in the Arab boycott bar Israelis and anyone with evidence of having visited Israel from entering their country. Kuwait bars citizens from 8 countries from entering their country due to difficult security conditions. And now, the United States bars citizens of 7 countries from visiting.

Of course, it is a country's prerogative to determine which citizens would be allowed to visit or not. But there is a part of me who wanted to think that the United States should have known better, that the USA should have been better than that, that it was on a level higher than Kuwait, or Azerbaijan, or the countries participating in the Arab boycott. After all, the USA is a country found by immigrants, and has always been a place where people from all over the world congregate. I suppose that era is over. America has stooped so low now, that it behaves like one of those third-world countries, and the sad and terrifying thing is that it is a massive country that happens to be controlled by a 70-year-old dictator with a 2-year-old brain.

I don't regret going to Iran. If my Iran visit results in me not being able to enter the USA anymore, then so be it. I've never been a big fan of the American Dream anyway; if I were, I probably would have done everything I can to remain in the USA after I finished my degree. Oh well. Based on what is happening right now, it's more like the American Nightmare.

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