I remember traveling to Israel once. Getting there felt as if I were a would-be terrorist. The amount of security to get on a plane to visit the tiny nation can be nerve racking but at the same time a feeling of security and safety. Once in Israel, the rules were pretty simple and clear. Avoid walking as a large group, be prepared to have any bag or backpack searched, and dress appropriately. At that time Isreali customs agents would stamp your passport. That practice stopped so Americans would not be turned away in Saudi Arabia or other nations that won’t accepts Israeli passport stamps.
This reminds me a bit of the recent American ban of Muslim-majority countries. I am not very pleased with our current level of diplomacy. But it does raise a question on how the very nations that discriminate against Israeli stamps in my American passport on how they feel being handed a similar feeling or gesture. I would like to take a step further by saying when I visit China that I must pay over $140 for a visa that typically costs $30 for all other nations. Other countries levy some hefty visa fees in retaliation for visa-waiver programs or other fiscal issues.
The passport as we once knew it has become somewhat worthless because of various visa requirements or financial hoops. But equally the American Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) has become just as cumbersome and problematic. The latest rules now require where a person was born rather than where they are a citizen. Permanent Residency in the United States once thought as a promising program is being destroyed by politics and fear tactics. I am afraid that many programs extending to Americans overseas may be in jeopardy because of knee jerk reactions by our current administration. Additionally, I also fear that many nations may begin to refuse extradition treaties to circumvent extremities in our immigration laws.
The bottom line is that extreme conditions by any government more than likely will ensure the same treatment from the opposition or another government. Visa fees for Americans will more than likely skyrocket because other nations want to send a strong message to the United States even if it risks reductions in tourism. It somewhat feels as if Americans are no longer welcome around the world. We didn’t do it any favors by the latest events with immigration and visa restrictions.