Civil Liberties

J.D. Tuccille on How Our Right To Travel Became a Bureaucratic Ordeal


Border Patrol checkpoint

Last week, writes J.D. Tuccille, Managing Editor of 24/7 News, his vacationing family was stopped at not one, but two, internal checkpoints along Interstate 8 in Arizona and California and questioned about their citizenship. This reminded him of a passage from the late historian Paul Fussell's Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars, describing the now almost unthinkable ease and anonymity with which people crossed national borders just a century ago: "[B]efore 1915 His Majesty's Government did not require a passport for departure, nor did any European state require one for admittance except the two notoriously backward and neurotic countries of Russia and the Ottoman Empire." How far, he says, we've come from effortless transit across borders to interrogations by armed, sweaty men along domestic highways.