Travel restrictions created new frontiers for those who wanted to return to their homeland
At the beginning of the pandemic, a number of countries shut their borders to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Travel to other countries continues to be restricted by various restrictions, which include “essential” travel only, conditions on travelers from certain countries, and vaccine “passports”.
Although they are a vital public health issue, these restrictions have proved particularly disruptive for families with children. These families traveling is an integral aspect of meeting obligations to the family and keeping a sense of ” familyhood” and belonging across national borders.
These policies introduce an entirely new level of “everyday bordering” for transnational families. “Everyday bordering” or ” everyday bordering” refers to the ways in which policies and narratives in the media about migration affect the way that migrants live their lives and determine the person who “belongs” in a nation-state. In the UK border, these borders increase what is known as the ” hostile environment,” and the Home Office’s policy on immigration is designed to make it difficult to remain within the UK without proper evidence.
For those who are emigrating, their country of origin symbolizes the home as well as family. The idea of visiting home is essential for the well-being of many people and lets migrants take part in the family tradition and participate in religious and religious celebrations. Also, it is required to fulfill care obligations for sick, elderly, or even young relatives.
In addition to the pandemic, the capacity to travel home and visit family members has been hampered by a myriad of factors that include immigration status as well as the cost of travel. The impact of these day-to-day boundaries on certain people who are migrants has been documented.
Since the introduction of COVID-19, travel limitations have hindered and imposed expensive and complex border checkpoints into the lives of migrants. This comes at a time when maintaining the transnational family care practices of families is crucial.
Our fieldwork in our research “Everyday Bordering in the UK” will help us learn how immigration laws such as COVID-19 travel restrictions have impacted social care professionals and the families of migrant migrants they serve.
Through diary entries, interviews, and ethnographic observation, we analyzed how families from different migration backgrounds interact with border crossings every day. While transnational family life was not our main focus, our research has highlighted the effect of COVID-19 travel limitations on the global family. This was further supported by our research assistant’s personal travel experiences while visiting relatives in Italy.
Our participants regularly talked about and wrote about family members who don’t reside here in the UK and also expressed a sense of responsibility to take care of them. This is a clear indication of how important it is that family members are capable of traveling to take care.
Some expressed regret over not being able to travel in the past due to the restrictive visa conditions or the prohibitive cost of flights. Interviews and ethnographic observations made from online English classes also show the effect of COVID-19 travel restrictions taking care of their needs.
A couple from Poland (we refer to as Krystyna and Henryk, who are now in the UK, explain the troubles caused by these restrictions. In March 2020, Krystyna was in Poland to assist her parents in caring for her elderly grandparents. Her travel plans were initially restricted. She couldn’t return to her husband in the UK due to cancellations of flights.
In this period, Henryk described being “depressed” and lonely, stating:
My family isn’t here since they’re located in Poland, which is why I was several days in my bed […] this was one of the worst experiences throughout my lifetime.
Although commercial flights weren’t readily available, chartered flights took many citizens home from their work or vacations. However, these flights did not include those who were in Krystyna’s situation – as a Polish citizen – or their caregiving responsibilities across borders, which are now split among two nations.