Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
What if the world’s borders were free and open, allowing unrestricted movement? If you could travel to anywhere, stay as long as you like, and seek employment wherever and whenever you chose?
Many find this concept intimidating, and countries often setup hurdles and roadblocks preventing unwanted immigration. In recent times, there has even been discussion by some to build a wall along the southern border of the United States to keep out the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. “Yes, my grandparents were immigrants, but you new immigrants are unwelcome”
Even doctoral graduates are increasingly unwelcome. “Thanks for studying in the United States, please take your advanced degree and go home.” These are interesting times
But what if we could bypass this whole mess, bureaucracy, and hypocrisy? What if, simply by being born in the right place, we could be welcome anywhere? What if we could be a Citizen of the World?
“Sir, do you have any drugs or illegal items that you are bringing into the country?” said the customs official, with a stern look on his face and a judgmental tone in his voice
Or at least that’s what I imagined was the case. It was just a beagle after all
As it turned out, what he really wanted was the banana shaped contraband stuck in the netting on the side of my backpack.
As far as run-ins with the law go, this was quite tame. Therapeutic even, since a friendly scratch behind the ear made us both feel that all was forgiven
Of the 50 or so times I’ve entered Taiwan for business and personal reasons, that occasion was by far the most challenging. Normally the immigration officials just stamp my passport with a 90-day visa exempt entry permit and customs smiles and waives me through.
So when we decided to stay in Taiwan for a few months for IVF treatments, there was really no compelling reason to apply for a formal Visa. I’d just leave the country every 90 days on a visa run to Hong Kong. It might be the most expensive Starbucks run in the world, but I’d only have to do it once or twice
But now that we’ve committed to a year of stability and nesting, it was time to reevaluate. My quarterly Visa runs would cost $250 each/$1000 a year, and as with all novelties, the allure fades