By Samuel Jones. The opening months of the year 2017 have not lacked for controversy. The American people were still pondering the aftermath of the inauguration of their 45th president – and the mass mobilization of protestors across the globe with which this event was met – when, on January 27th, 2017, the White House issued an executive order suspending the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely, and banning the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. (Source: New York Times, Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide, January 28, 2017) No sooner than the ink of the president’s signature had dried, the streets and airports of the United States filled once again with protestors, indignant at the idea of a ban based solely upon religious affiliation, while lawyers and community organizers worked to mitigate the effects of the document on the communities concerned. The order has since been revised and reissued, the most notable change being the removal of Iraq from list of countries included in the travel ban.
Nonetheless, the debate has raged on over the validity of such a measure – particularly within the context of a country composed largely of the children of immigration – and its potential consequences. This conversation grew ever more complicated with the announcement, on March 3rd, 2017, that the European Parliament was calling for the E.U. to require U.S. citizens to apply for a visa in order to travel within the 23 member states of the European Union. This demand came in response to Washington’s refusal to permit the citizens of five European nations – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania – to travel within the U.S. without a visa.
“It is undoing the country, arriving to extremes, this belief that America is only for Americans.” Claudia, Peru
It is the author’s opinion that the repercussions of this announcement should not, in any way, shape, or form, be equated with those of the White House’s travel ban. There is a difference between being unable to vacation or pursue a job opportunity and being unable to return home to one’s family. It is, however, relevant, particularly for American migrants, to consider the conception of the United States held by the communities they inhabit and to keep those conceptions in mind when organizing in the context of the current presidency. If ever there was a time for the rejection of nativist policies in the United States, it is now. In response to these recent developments, members of the Americans Resisting Overseas community asked people from six countries the question “Is it fair in the currrent context that the European Union might require Americans to have visas to travel to Europe.” Here is a selection of the answers they received.
“I think now US people are dealing with the natural consequence of their suspicion about ‘citizens of the world.’ Now, they have that suspicion against them and they want to get out, because they are not feeling safe and free because that savage government is controlling not just the outside, that savage and hypocritical power is also against them…”
“If we are thinking in fairness, it is an understandable response on the US´s current policy on immigration. But the idea that travel visas should be used in a punitive way at any country at any point is absurd.”
“I feel sad that the EU is going to make this decision. As a Taiwanese, we had to apply for visas to visit different countries in the past, including the USA and Europe. But now, we can travel to over 100 countries without visas. This was a difficult process which took more than 50 years. Now, the EU might decide to start requiring visas for Americans which means that the leaders in the USA are going to make things tougher for America. America has not become more great because of him. Also, this means that the freedom of being American is becoming less.”
“I think that two wrongs don´t make a right. So if the US makes certain EU countries obtain a visa, then the EU should stand firm to its visa-free entry laws. However, as the EU being a body “united” I can see the reasoning. As an open-minded Brit living abroad I would obviously love to see fewer visa requirements across the globe or at least the profits form visa applications going to worthy causes.”
“For me, the first thing I think about isn´t whether it´s fair or not, but rather that it´s a privilege that Australians and US citizens get visa-free access to so many places already. I do think it´s fair in light of our respective countries travel entry policies that this is reciprocated by other countries.”
“To me it is a fair and just solution after Trump has asked so much from people who go to his country, limiting so many people, as if his country wasn´t made up of migrants from its beginning. America has all the cultures and races and this is what makes it great. And its tolerance is what makes it great. Now, it is undoing the country, arriving to extremes, this belief that America is only for Americans. And yes, it seems fair to me, that Americans could be required to have a visa to enter Europe. The reality is we should ask Americans to have a visa for whatever country. Americans need to understand that they can also suffer the same thing that other countries suffer.”
“They are clutching at straws. It seems like they feel powerless to do anything and so they are punishing the absolute easiest people to punish. The easiest people to punish are people who are regular ordinary citizens visiting other countries. So it seems a desperate move. Isn´t there something bigger then can do to make an impact? Sanctions?”