I used to hate carrying my passport, living a life fearing deportation does that to you. A passport should symbolize as a key to other countries due to international treaties. As a key that allows you to be a citizen of the world. But to me, for over ten years, was gold because it was my only true form of identification in the US.
To me, the passport was only an identification rather than the passport. When my driver license expired when I turned 21, my American form of identification was gone for a few month. All I had to me was my passport. During those few months, I didn’t need to do anything that required any form of identification. I didn’t go to bars either, when I did I would just bring my expired ID. Thankfully I wasn’t a social drinker, so I didn’t need to take out my passport.
I left my passport at my parent’s place for awhile. When I would travel to places that needed passport like registrations for public schools, I would have my father carry it. For me, the responsibility was way too big. Undocumented it wasn’t so much a huge hassle to go to the consulate and request for a new passport, rather it was the unknown.
A lot of undocumented immigrants comes into this country unaware of all the politics around papers and documents, fearing deportation and every people of authority. So when they travel, they don’t use American transportation like planes or even public buses like Greyhound, rather they would use an ethnic owned transportation systems like the Chinese Bus. Much of the time drivers would have no qualifications and training. The busses would be rented busses that didn’t even have certifications. Once when taking the bus from New York to Michigan, our bus was stopped by the police due to their parking on the curb of the road before leaving New York. When the police ask for papers, I translated for the driver and the police. We didn’t leave New York that night due to an expired license.
You may hear me joked about the Asian buses before, to you it may seem silly or even a cheap ride (not anymore, it’s 200 for round trip now from Michigan to New York) but to us, it was a form of transportation that we didn’t have to be afraid of. During the Bush and Obama administration, there were high rates of deportation; customs were even targeting Greyhound bus areas, inducing terror among the undocumented, making a high demand for the rise of Chinese bus systems.
But now my passport seems to be normalized. It’s in its pristine shape, a little folded, a little scratched up. But I no longer treat it like gold, I handle it like my key, a real passport that I can regularly use when traveling abroad. No more fearing that it would be lost, no more fearing that I would no longer have a name. A little red book that’s starting to collect stamps.