Border Privileges

Atualizado: 28 de set.

The Guardian online cited from someone who grew up with a ‘low-ranking’ passport that Brexit has made international travel inherently more chaotic and stressful.

He quoted that whenever he’s flying with someone who is a relaxed traveller, someone who arrives just before check-in closes, then has a full sit-down breakfast he teases them out; something he calls “border privilege”. Chances are that relaxed traveller was born with access to a passport that has a high “power ranking”.


If you don’t know what that is, lucky you, for you are probably a holder of a passport that is high on the Henley passport index – a global ranking of countries in terms of the travel freedom their passports enjoy. The higher your passport ranks, the more “border privilege” you have – that is, the ability to cross national boundaries with, at best, a sense of excitement and, at worst, mild annoyance at the inconveniences of travel.


As the reality of Brexit bites and international travel increases post-lockdown, Britons are about to find out a few things about border privilege – namely, what happens when you lose it. Only a nation that viewed freedom of travel as an entitlement could have thrown it away so breezily. Those who did not grow up with border privilege can tell you that without it travel is an obstacle course; something you gird your loins for, prepare dossiers of documents for, say several hail Marys and inshallahs.


The passports at the top of the Henley index allow the holder to visit almost 200 countries without securing a visa in advance. Those lower down, like the Sudanese one he was born with, must pass through the eye of a needle before being permitted to enter the majority of countries. Applicants face almost unscalable walls of bureaucracy and suspicion, comical demands for paperwork and, often, humiliation and refusal.


Brits should be aware that in 2016 the British passport ranked in joint first place. Since then, it has been reduced to joint sixth place, so I wouldn’t expect to be treated as well when travelling this summer.


Take care!

Prof. Carl Boniface


Vocabulary builder:

Gird one’s loins (idiom) = prepare oneself for something difficult or challenging. "Members of parliament are girding their loins for an election campaign."

Hail Marys (idiom) = 1. A prayer to the Virgin Mary used chiefly by Roman Catholics, beginning with part of Luke 1:28. 2. In American football a long, typically unsuccessful pass made in a desperate attempt to score late in the game. "They beat the 49ers on a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds."

Inshallahs (idiom) = if Allah wills: God willing. “Today, we will try to cross the border again and inshallah, we hope to make it.” Or “We are displaced, but one day will return soon, inshallah!”

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