As a child, Stephan Faris nearly failed to qualify for any country's passport. Now, in a story that moves from South Africa to Italy to the United States, he looks at the arbitrariness of nationality. Framed by Faris's meeting with a young orphan as a reporter in Liberia and their reencounter years later in Minnesota, Homelands makes the case for a complete rethinking of immigration policy. In a world where we've globalized capital, culture, and communications, are restrictions on the movement of people still morally tenable?
At a time when the immigration debate dominates the headlines, Homelands follows in the tradition of George Orwell's "Marrakech" and, more recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates's case for reparations in The Atlantic. Drawing on more than a decade of international reporting for magazines such as Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Atlantic, Faris takes listeners on a 10-year journey along the borders separating war from peace in Liberia, opportunity from deprivation in Kenya, and safety from disaster today in the deadly waters off Lampedusa - an Italian holiday island that has become the scene of a refugee crisis. On the way, he uncovers a series of unsettling but ultimately redeeming parallels between modern immigration practices and the policies of South Africa's apartheid regime.
Could we really have a world without borders? What would that look like? Based on dozens of interviews with philosophers and diplomats, aid workers and small-town mayors, and a cabinet member of South Africa's last apartheid government, Faris's work of fearless frontline journalism also functions as a kind of futurism. Confronting questions inflaming borders in California and Texas, France and Greece, and Morocco and Spain, he takes us into the depths of one of the modern world's most complex moral dilemmas - and returns with an answer.