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Fear and loathing on the US-Mexico border

15 24 27
30.11.2021

On November 8, 2021, the United States reopened its borders to eligible international travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, thereby ending the restrictions on “non-essential travel” that were implemented at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Of course, US borders are never really “open” to the majority of the Earth’s population – vaccinated or not – such being the nature of imperial hypocrisy in a world where the US is free to transcend other people’s borders, military and economically, while closing its own frontiers to, inter alia, individuals fleeing US-imposed military and economic havoc.

The grand November “reopening” occasioned such jubilant headlines as the BBC’s “Scenes of joy as first visitors arrive in US after 20-month ban”.

Regarding the reopening of the San Ysidro land border crossing between the Mexican city of Tijuana and the US state of California, meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper similarly gushed: “Border reopens smoothly to cheers, hugs and tearful reunions.”

Granted, San Ysidro was never closed to US citizens, who were free to come and go – vaccinated or not – since imperial privilege is, you know, “essential”. This arrangement naturally did not stop xenophobic representatives of the US political establishment from blaming COVID-19 propagation along the southern US border on “illegal” immigrants.

As misfortune would have it, I, myself got to experience the San Ysidro reopening – albeit one day late, on November 9. And it was far from a joyous occasion.

A US citizen myself, I had spent the past 18 years avoiding the country at all cost in the interest of my mental health while travelling the world in one continuous ethical conundrum: namely, the ability to traverse international borders pretty much at will thanks to a passport bestowed by a homeland I hated.

On........

© Al Jazeera


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