Lunaya Pravda

08 April 2007

Does anti-war activism make it harder to get a passport?

Activist contends passport stall tied to anti-war efforts

Thomas Hays, 38, says he applied for a passport with his birth certificate, Social Security card and Washington state identification card in February. He then received a surprise in the mail at the end of the month when the government said it needed much more documentation -- some of which is difficult to quickly obtain -- to give him a passport.

The State Department says it wanted Hays to provide "school transcripts, high school yearbook pages showing your name and photograph, religious records, medical records, (and) tax/employment records."

(Thanks to lewlew, who tipped me off about this article.)

Something sure sounds fishy here, and of course the State Department thugs will never give a reason for requesting all this additional information.

For a couple of reasons, I bit the bullet and got a passport early last year.

My mother and I were planning a long weekend to Canada, and though a passport still isn't needed for a trip to Canada and back (the requirement is coming), we both figured it'd be a little easier than bringing along an original birth certificate.

I also wanted to get a passport before they became "enhanced" with RFID. The state department offices here were due to start issuing RFID-enabled passports by the summer of 2006, so I beat that deadline by a few months.

The decision to get a passport wasn't an easy one, and because of the RFID deadline, I felt a bit pressured to make a choice. Though the idea of having to produce citizenship papers on demand is morally repugnant to me in every possible way, I'd still rather have one more tool at my disposal if the shit ever hits the fan. I can choose whether or not to show it, and having one might make a few situations easier than if I didn't have anything to produce.

Now I'm glad I didn't wait. With situations such as Mr. Hays', and Homeland Security now sharing available personal information with the Canadian border guards, I can only think obtaining passport approval is bound to become increasingly difficult.

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