Rachael Devecka: Make Your Own Passport Reflection

I really appreciated the Make Your Own Passport project and the reflections that it led to, despite the difficult that comes with confronting your own privilege. There were three main themes that emerged from my table’s conversation: human rights, immigration rights, and power. Firstly, I noticed that article 15 in the UDHR states: “Everyone has the right to a nationality.” Statelessness violates this right. Are stateless people entitled to protection by a government if none claims them? Are they legally considered fully ‘human’ if they don’t have this fundamental status? Secondly, as someone who is interested in immigration law, I was bewildered by the stateless status. All of the forms I am familiar with require nationality and identification. If someone doesn’t have this, can they immigrate to another country? Can they acquire refugee status? If people don’t have a state, can they (technically) face persecution by ‘their’ government? Thirdly, we discussed how much power having a nationality confers. Among other things, we mentioned work status, traveling, voting, and government benefits. It is also true that some nationalities hold more power than others––which we connected, in many cases, to the ongoing effects of imperialism. It’s worth considering what it means to be American versus what it means to be Gambian or to be stateless. It is also worth considering where those dynamics originate. I left the project feeling motivated to learn more. I reached out to an immigration lawyer to ask her some of my questions, but I have not heard back about the answers as of yet––when I do I will update my post or bring the answers to class.

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