State Dept adding intrusive, semi-impossible questionnaire for US passport applications

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93 Responses to “State Dept adding intrusive, semi-impossible questionnaire for US passport applications”

  1. Marja says:

    During the Jim Crow era, several states had designed-to-be-impossible literacy tests. For example, they could require knowledge of the names and terms of all the state’s current and former judges. Election officials were not required to test everyone, but they were permitted to test people at their discretion…

    I don’t think that’s the intent, but I suspect that will be the effect of the policy. And it is most likely to hurt people who are going to have a harder time getting correct documentation anyway, and/or minorities. I was lucky to be able to get my passport corrected before this policy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This could be a good thing for the rest of the world, if all your
    troops have to submit to this the rest of us can relax!

  3. Cassandra says:

    I lost my copy of my birth certificate during a move several years ago. My own parents don’t always remember how to spell my middle name. Thank God I already have a passport I got back when I had the certificate, or I’d never be able to go visit my sister, who lives overseas.

    I’ve heard that the second proposed revision of this form will include the following questions:
    - How old were you when you first read “Bartleby the Scrivener?” Please compare the theme of “Bartleby” with Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” What grade did you get the last time you wrote about this topic? Do not write outside this box. Do not leave any blank space.

    - Please list the current location and age of long-lost relatives (if any). If deceased, please provide GPS coordinates of funeral plots.

    - How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
    Please provide documentation that the woodchuck is legally resident in the US. Attach two (2) notarized copies of a wood-chucking permit (or green card, if the woodchuck is a non-us resident).

  4. georgeberger says:

    @#2 I see no reason to believe that the reasons being given now will hold in future. They can be modified, dropped, whatever. This holds even if the reasons are adopted into some law.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How is it that a passport is need to leave and return to the US?
    As a citizen, I can leave. The country I am visiting doesn’t need to allow me to enter, but that has nothing to do with the information requirements of the US passport.
    Upon return, as a US citizen, I cannot be denied re-entry.

    So why does the FedGov need this info for a US citizen when a US citizen doesn’t need one for US government interactions?

    • Haakon IV says:

      You don’t need a passport to leave the US. But the airline (or cruise ship, or whatever) transporting you to another country will check that you have one so that you will be allowed to enter another country. They are responsible for transporting you back to the US if denied entry elsewhere.

  6. OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork says:

    Giving them the ability to do something with their “promise” they will not misuse it is about as smart as believing the dog when he says he will not pull the steak off the counter if you leave the room.

    If my dog could say a promise, he can have the steak. I’m going to be rich!

    But seriously, who the hell knows every address their mother has ever lived at, and how could they possibly find out if she was dead or otherwise couldn’t be asked? This is not a passport application that was meant to be completable.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As a military brat who has had 20+ addresses in the last 30 or so years, this is terrifying.

    Here is the form: http://papersplease.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ds5513-proposed.pdf

  8. Anonymous says:

    I did a common-law name change back in the 1970s when I was poor and propertyless in California. Later, when I moved to New York, I had no problems renting, going to college, getting bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license and passport, etc. But then I went through a prolonged period of unemployment, poverty and evictions in the years before and after 9/11, during which time my driver’s license and passport expired. I couldn’t (and still can’t) find my original copy of my birth certificate; and the state of Michigan (where I was born), which doesn’t recognize common-law name changes, refused to send me another copy. I was fortunate that my parents were still alive and well and speaking to me, because the state does provide copies to parents. Otherwise, I’d have to be a fugitive abroad or else trapped in the United Prisoner States of America forever! I don’t want to imagine what hell the proposed requirements would create for transpeople, refugees, and survivors of home fires, domestic violence, armed conflicts, or of natural and unnatural disasters.

  9. druidbros says:

    I am so glad I renewed my passport before they started adding the RFID tags. But that only leaves me four more trouble free years.

    • Haakon IV says:

      Yes, I’m sure they don’t track you through that bar code that they scan every time you enter the country.

      • Anonymous says:

        The issue isn’t so much that a person’s movements across international borders can be tracked. That’s been going on for a long time, like you said. The RFID tag comes with specific security risks that have nothing to do with tracking. Namely, remote reading of the tag for identity theft–the tags have been easily cloned in tests. There is also the possibility of remote identification of someone’s citizenship by the tag’s “fingerprint” even if it isn’t read. Then say you’re looking to kidnap or attack Americans specifically. You’ll know how to ID them. Those are very simple explanations of the risks; I’m not going to bore anyone with the technical details here.

    • Major Variola (ret) says:

      Some of us consider it proper hygiene to put government documents through the microwave oven.

      Our driver’s license magstrip is also curiously devoid of meaningful bits.

      Not sure how the optical codes on the new licenses will be disinfected, but you know those govt cooties..

  10. Anonymous says:

    I spent the first 18 years of my lifs in a number of different countries (my dad was a State Dept foreign service officer). Since then I have lived in a number of states, had several jobs and moved at least 10 times. To try and fill out this questionnaire in the level of detail required would be almost impossible. Also, someone else made the comment about information required for a high level security clearance. I have one and agree that the information required for that is less intrusive than what is being discussed here.

  11. HOTDAMN says:

    I start sweating when I have to fill out my last 3 employers on a job application.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they just buy a facebook subscription? Isn’t this what’s it’s really for anyway?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m starting to think the people who are habitually “for” such shite on boards such as these are not simply trolls:
    They are the employees of certain amoral lobbyists. Or senators.
    Or corporations. Maybe all three.

    As for the form itself, yes it really really does look like a “Deny” card in cowardly form.
    And eventually it will become a solicitation for a bribe;
    If the authority is willing to do something like this, its just a hop skip and a jump to full on corruption.

  14. Taniwha says:

    Anon#49 – I have a social security number, I’m not a US citizen – I have to file taxes there – it’s more of a taxpayer ID number – until relatively most people didn’t get an SSN until they entered the work force (now days parents have to get them for infants so they can claim them as dependents on their taxes)

  15. Anonymous says:

    To anyone who has filled out a security clearance form all this will sound familiar. What we are all headed toward is a society of clearances, not only will this go trough it will become mandatory. But don’t worry you won’t have to provide anything in the future, It will all be tracked for you. And the services you’ll receive from having governments and corporations know everything about you …. will blow you away.

  16. Anonymous says:

    My boyfriend was put through the long list of questions even after supplying his birth certificate.

    The questions included all previous residences, jobs, and schools. They also wanted newspaper articles with pictures or papers with signatures dating back over time. It was hell to go through.

    Our only guess why he had to go through so much pain was because his brother had pretended to be him during an arrest many years ago?

    • holtt says:

      Our only guess why he had to go through so much pain was because his brother had pretended to be him during an arrest many years ago?

      Makes sense. If someone came to you and you didn’t know for sure it was them, and you knew someone had pretended to be them once, wouldn’t you do some double checking?

  17. Anonymous says:

    That form is actually more detailed than the one Americans fill out when applying for a security clearance. Seriously, here it is:

    http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf

    Even for Top Secret, they only want to know your residence and work history going back 10 years, not a lifetime.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the 45 min is per question field? ;)
    My favorite is number 10 :

    “What type of document, if any, did your mother use to enter the united states before your birth”

    Since she was born here, her route of entry would be the traditional one, so I guess “Vagina” counts as a “Document”

    But this really shows the INTENT of the document.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Thank you Patriot Act.

  20. igpajo says:

    For the question on the form that asks: “Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names”, I’d be tempted to start out “Well one day while walking to school, my father saw my mother and thought she was pretty” and go from there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yah, I was looking at it and thinking “Well, I suppose I’ll have to explain about the birds and the weasels…when a man and a woman really like each other…”

  21. Teller says:

    I salute Cory and BB for allowing comments that straighten slanted posts.

  22. lakelady says:

    my favorite part of the form has to be the dates of all prenatal appointments. wtf?

  23. Anonymous says:

    I was very young at the time of my birth, and my memories of any religious ceremonies held at the time are very hazy. There may have been a parade. Or clowns. I’m just not sure.

  24. drftrapani says:

    I have no problems with this policy however I want our president to submit his information first!
    drftrapani

  25. Anonymous says:

    I am not American, but I have a question:

    Does not every American have a social security number? Why is that one not sufficient to determine the identity and nationality of a person without a birth certificate/ Consular report or a naturalization certificate?

    So let’s say you lost everything including all documents in Hurricane Katrina or any other natural disaster or fire, you would have to answer these questions to obtain a passport.

    Or you just could have a new certificate of naturalization issued….

    But if you are an American by birth, this would not work, as you cannot have a birth certificate reissued.

  26. benher says:

    So… Obama has to fill one of these out, right?

  27. valdis says:

    Actually, stuff like “religious ceremony around your birth” is there to *help* you in case you don’t have a birth certificate. Many churches keep *very* good records, so if you can tell the Dept of State “I know I was baptized in Chicago a few days after I was born”, a quick phone call to the Archdiocese of Chicago will probably confirm your story and establish you *were* in Chicago at the time. Similarly for the other stuff – it’s there to establish your backstory if your paperwork is sketchy.

    Think about it – if you *don’t* have a birth certificate handy, how *do* you convince somebody you’ve lived in the US all your life? Think about that for a bit…

    • The Chemist says:

      I like the world you live in, where everyone is Christian and has such records squirreled away somewhere. Christian or Jewish affiliated with a religious organization? Oh, great, there are records! Atheist? Muslim? Member of a religion that doesn’t do baptisms or keep records of circumcisions? “Well, we don’t see why you wouldn’t have some information.”

  28. urbanspaceman says:

    The State Department announced last year that, along with other price increases for passport services, renouncing one’s citizenship, which used to be free of charge, would now cost US$495.00.

    This latest development in the current political climate of corruption and official arrogance would probably lead just about anyone who actually cares about their personal liberties to seriously wonder if our government isn’t quietly setting up a North Korean-style prison-state.

  29. Anonymous says:

    It seems absurdly overreaching. I could not complete this form accurately in 45 minutes or in any amount of time. I have no records of all – hardly any – places I have lived since birth or when I lived there. I would be lucky to remember all the towns and actual addresses are stimpossible to retrieve. To be forced to swear under oath to the accuracy of such information is just an invitation for future prosecution at the whim of any official.

    However, they are clearly not set up for comments from private individuals. When you get down to the required Organization, Government Agency Type and Government Agency entries, you will decide as I did that they don’t want to hear from you.

  30. Anonymous says:

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

    Ayn Rand

  31. Anonymous says:

    This is the bureaucratic flip side to the oft-quoted observation by Ayn Rand:

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers.”

    Or in this case a nation of people for whom their right of travel is now subject to arbitrary interpretation by a name-less and unreachable government department. Keep in mind that a passport is now required for travel to Canada and Mexico, so without one you cannot leave in order to seek freedom elsewhere.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’m 30 with living parents and I couldn’t compile all this information in 45 minutes… maybe not even in 45 DAYS. I had several short term/temp jobs and summer apartments in college for which I no longer have any good records, and a terrible memory to begin with which became essentially no memory at all for some of that period due to severe depression (seriously, I was losing sentences halfway through at my worst… and they want me to remember addresses I had for only 2 months during those periods, 10 years later?!)

    And I’ve NEVER known who besides my parents and “some OB-GYN” was present at my birth, or exactly what my first address was as I was all of one year old when I moved. Let alone where my mom lived before I was born! Now sure, my parents probably know these, but when they die, this becomes permanently unavailable.

    This is completely unreasonable, and I wish I hadn’t missed the comment window to say as much.

  33. Anonymous says:

    actually this reads like it came from the birther manifesto. it’s not a passport application so much as what’s required to be placed on the presidential ballot in, um, arizona…

  34. Clayton Hove says:

    Being adopted should make this interesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not necessarily. at least in California. The adoptive parents are issued a new Certificate of Live Birth with all the proper names and data.

  35. Anonymous says:

    “Circumstances of my birth”?

    How would I know, I wasn’t there until the very end.

  36. Simon Delancey says:

    Some clarification:

    1. The proposed “biographical form” is intended for those people who are unable to provide the usual proof of citizenship required for a US passport – namely, a birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or naturalization certificate.

    2. The comment period which ends on 29th April is _not_ for comments on the form itself, but for a plan to allow the US State Department to decide whether it is necessary and would it impose an undue burden on applicants, etcetera. In other words, they’re asking for comments on the bureaucratic process itself.

    You may now resume your normally scheduled panicking.

    • Victor Drath says:

      While I’m aware of the additional information you pointed, you and the other pooh poohers are missing something here. That is the fact that NO ONE CAN ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS.

      How would these questions help catch illegal immigrants if an american can’t ever answer them? I have lived in this country my whole life, I have a birth certificate and other id, but I could not fill out this form to save my life. Some of the people who may have had the answers are dead for starters. This is pure Catch 22.

    • Anonymous says:

      1. The proposed “biographical form” is intended for those people who are unable to provide the usual proof of citizenship required for a US passport – namely, a birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or naturalization certificate.
      As this form is presently configured, there aren’t many Amish, Hutterites or children born on hippie communes who could fill it out; they’d need to rely on their quaint ole-timey whiteness to impress the clerical staff where they applied for a passport to get out of the form barrier.

      2. The comment period which ends on 29th April is _not_ for comments on the form itself, but for a plan to allow the US State Department to decide whether it is necessary and would it impose an undue burden on applicants, etcetera. In other words, they’re asking for comments on the bureaucratic process itself.
      A charming dodge of basic responsibility. Unfortunately the hallowed “bureaucratic process” is not unaffected by the nature of the “form itself”…. in order to decide “whether it is necessary and would it impose an undue burden on applicants”.

      Look, a passport form that asks for detailed confirmation of life history in place of a birth certificate or naturalization certificate is reasonable. One that allows bureaucrats to require information about religious ceremonies is not in accordance with the highest laws of our land.
      Objections to this form, as it is presently written, should not have to come exclusively from the Libertarianesque fringes of the Intertubez. The thing should have been vetted and amended long before it reached this point in the bureaucratic process.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Lockdown America is here — no one in or out.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it’s a lockdown, it brings to mind what happens when you corner a wildcat.
      the laws of unintended consequences apply here, I think.

    • Anonymous says:

      The deadline is TODAY (Monday, April 25th, midnight EDT)), not April 29 as is comment #2 above.

    • Mister44 says:

      You don’t need a passport to leave the US.

      • Manny says:

        Your options are limited to just about nothing without a passport, though. You now need a passport or similar document (NEXUS card or passport card) to enter other countries, even Canada and Mexico now. You can’t board an international flight from the USA without a passport. You need a passport to return. I’d hate to swim all the way to the UK and get turned back, then have trouble re-entering the USA.

        I think the only exception is for closed-loop ship cruises, but you run into trouble if that loop is broken by illness or emergency.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I was born in the US – submitted my Delayed birth cert and got a letter informing my BC did not reflect docs used to creat it. I sent them a letter listing the items on the BC in detail & how evidence was reviewed by TDHealth and signed off, also a registrars signature. The response was, “the evidence used to create the delayed birth record is not sufficient for passport services.

    They are requesting a need for early records – on a phone message they state my baptism was 1.5yr after my birth and is not acceptable. So they send me a letter requesting “earlier records” and included “Supplemental Worksheet” which is EXACTLY what you have listed Residences since birth, work history, school history, family history etc.,.

    My delayed birth certificated list documents used to create it. My Cert of Baptism, and my mother’s affidavit.. But that is not enough..

  39. Anonymous says:

    Fortunately, I have kept my passport up to date. My passport is what I’ve used for “proof of existence” when applying for jobs, etc, which want two pieces of ID.

    As far as the “religious ceremony around your birth” being there to help – um … I doubt that as well. I am reminded of the seminarian from a Native village in Canada. Asked his birth date (for the school application), he said he didn’t know, so they asked his mother. “It was in the spring, when the bunnies start to hop around.” That was as close as they could narrow it down. So, that is what they tried to squeeze into the space on the form.

    I had to fill out a background check – kept a copy for my own records. I thought it bad that I had three high schools, on three different continents. But another applicant when to 14! Oh yeah, so like they will remember every address they ever had.

  40. jerwin says:

    Most of this information should be on your “long form birth certificate.” In addition.
    “Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 45 minutes per response, including the time required for searching existing data sources, gathering the necessary data, providing the information and/or documents required, and reviewing the final collection.”

    • Max says:

      “Most of this information should be on your long form birth certificate”

      What planet do you live on?

      It asks for :
      “lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers”
      Along with addresses of all your other family members.

      How/Why is that on your birth certificate?

      Also, for people who have been around for a few years, they may well find supervisors no longer work for the same company they did when you left. So, are they expecting supervisors home addresses and are they expecting you to keep that up to date when people move house?
      That would take more than 45 minutes to gather if you hadn’t been keeping it up to date all along.
      For example :
      I’m looking for someone called “Mr. Smith” who was a supervisor at Gotham City’s “Greasy Cafe” in 1981 till it went bankrupt in 1982. I never knew his first name unless it was “Sir”. I don’t know if he still lives in this country or even if he’s still alive.

  41. Anonymous says:

    So they are creating a form that has amazing uses.

    - They can use it to keep rabblerousers from leaving the country and seeing what a joke we are in the rest of the world.

    - They can use it to replace the obvious question of – Are you a Muslim? so they can keep them from going out to be trained as a terrorist.

    - They can use it to push for more intrusion into your private life, and with the refrain of “but what about the terrorists” a large chunk of the population will comply because your either with us or your a f*@^king terrorist.

    - They will then use missing information as a reason to detain people and investigate them as being subversives. ala Capone vs the IRS.

    I do believe that they have set the bar that much higher now for crap they think people will accept.

    I have no problem with this form with 1 caveat – Every single pencil pusher in these departments and the congress critters need to have their passports invalidated until such time as they can provide this form filled out to the proper level that they will require of anyone they demand fill out this form.

    I often think if the Government people had to have all of the laws they want to pass enforced on them for 2 years and receive the max possible punishments for breaking them, before enforcing them on the populace would result in less stupid laws.

  42. notasheep says:

    Can you believe the government thinks this would take only 45 minutes to fill out? Both of my parents are dead, so if I had to go through this process I’d have to go to the public library’s collection of city directories to find all my old addresses, and even then this would be a nigh unto impossible.

    This is government at its worst. It’s a monument to petty bureaucracy — and I say this as a registered Democrat, who normally thinks government is on my side. This is the sort of government abuse, frankly, that turns liberals into libertarians.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I think there is a lot more context to this form than presented here.

    While I don’t have any insider information, I would assume this is all connected to the problems involving Texas midwives falsely certifying home births for Mexican nationals, enabling them to falsely claim citizenship. This was a huge scandal a few years ago–though most of the news coverage was about citizens legitimately born at home who couldn’t get passports in the wake of all this.

    I think the catch is that these individuals–suspected of never having been born in or previously lived in the U.S.–would not be able to provide verifiable previous jobs, addresses, religious ceremonies, siblings born in the U.S., etc.

  44. Anonymous says:

    This may not be as bad as it seems. I had a friend in Utah who went through something similar a few years back. She was born to non-mainstream Mormons who didn’t believe in registering births, so there were no birth certificates for any of them. So the whole lot of them were interviewed and they did have to provide all sorts of information to back up their claim.

  45. Max says:

    To get high level UK government clearance they are only interested in addresses etc. for about the last 10 years for you and your family.

    This is madness. Your mother’s address before you were born FFS…

    Several thousand years ago a country wanted to keep their citizens in and the marauding hordes out. So they built a wall of bricks and mortar.

    Now America seems to be creating a wall of paperwork to keep visitors out and the population in.

    In case you haven’t figured it out, “the land of the free” has become China.

  46. boingmoing says:

    Ugh. Before the China and Nazi Germany comparison and COMPLETE FREAKING OUT starts, please take the time to read the government’s explanation here: http://papersplease.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ds-5513-supportingstmnt.pdf.

    Specifically, that, “The Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport, form DS-5512, is used to supplement an application for a U.S. passport when the applicant submits citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity.”

    Generally, these suspicious cases are sent to the appropriate authorities, including law enforcement, for investigation. This appears to be standardized data collection to kick off the investigation. This form will never apply to the 99.5% of people who apply for a passport using normal, non-forged citizenship and identity documents, such as a previous passport, birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, etc.

    And all the random, intrusive questions you don’t understand (e.g. people present at birth, info on mother’s prenatal care, previous employment)? All designed to catch certain types of citizenship fraud, especially the claim of midwife or unattended birth at home, followed by a false claims to residency in the U.S. Again, crazy questions, but ones that will never be posed to 99.5% of passport applicants.

    And the claim that an angry passport clerk could just hand you this form to make your life difficult? Not unless he/she can justify to their supervisor why your citizenship/identity documents were insufficient or appeared to be fraudulent.

    • 0xdeadbeef says:

      > crazy questions, but ones that will never be posed to 99.5% of passport applicants.

      That is not a supporting argument for your otherwise sensible explanation. Usually when people say things like that, it means “sure, we’re going to fuck innocent people, but don’t worry, they won’t be you“.

    • Anonymous says:

      “And the claim that an angry passport clerk could just hand you this form to make your life difficult? Not unless he/she can justify to their supervisor why your citizenship/identity documents were insufficient or appeared to be fraudulent.”

      I would be with you on that if not for the fact that current polling indicates that somewhere between 25% and 29% of America seem to think that the current President of the United States (of all people) does not have a legitimate birth certificate. If that many people can hang on to that kind of belief for someone as vetted as a sitting U.S. President, exactly what kind of havoc could unleashed with this proposal?

    • Anonymous says:

      I won’t compare this to Nazi Germany or China. From now on I will compare these things to the Aztecs.

    • judith.butlertron says:

      None of which actually addresses why this information is needed. There is no practical identification purpose to knowing what religious ceremony surrounded your birth. There is no practical application for knowing all of the addresses your mother lived before you were born. These are not pieces of identification, they are excuses.

      This could be gross incompetence masquerading as the kind of “common sense” you get from the unquestioning privilege of one who grew up in one home, moved into a house in the same block, can actually name 50 or more of their cousins, and assumes this makes them Joe Average, American Everyman.

      Alternately, and more realistically, the purpose of a form that poses questions that make you legally responsible for secondhand information given to you by other people is exactly what pmark suggested – a reason to arrest, detain,

      After the events of the past 20 years or so, what is amazing is not the fear and anxiety of people watching their rights and freedoms not so much “steadily erode” as “catch fire and burn to the fucking ground”, but instead the continuing and touching faith of people like you that, in the event of a government institution having to interpret a vague or tricky piece of legal wording in government policy and given the choice between government privilege and individual freedoms, individual freedoms are ever, ever going to win.

      I mean, you guys don’t even have habeas corpus anymore.

      HABEAS CORPUS.

      By all means, keep on trusting your government if it keeps your blood pressure down, but don’t kid yourself that it reflects reality for anyone who isn’t lucky enough to be sheltered by privilege or luck.

    • chgoliz says:

      This appears to be standardized data collection to kick off the investigation. This form will never apply to the 99.5% of people who apply for a passport using normal, non-forged citizenship and identity documents, such as a previous passport, birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, etc.

      What you don’t understand is that virtually 100% of adoptees have “forged identity papers”, and they constitute around 5% of the population. As it is, post-9/11, many have been unable to get a passport, and even getting a driver’s license is now out of reach for some adoptees.

      A law denying 5% of US citizens the right to a passport is even more discriminatory than what’s already on the books.

      • boingmoing says:

        Chgoliz: I’ve never heard of an American citizen who has gone through a formal adoption process and been unable to get a passport (or drivers license) as a result. Can you provide a cite?

        • chgoliz says:

          I’ve never heard of an American citizen who has gone through a formal adoption process and been unable to get a passport (or drivers license) as a result. Can you provide a cite?

          Here’s a handful to get you started:

          Example 1
          Example 2
          Example 3
          Example 4
          Example 5
          Example 6
          Example 7, part a
          Example 7, part b

        • Victor Drath says:

          “And the claim that an angry passport clerk could just hand you this form to make your life difficult? Not unless he/she can justify to their supervisor why your citizenship/identity documents were insufficient or appeared to be fraudulent”

          Wow dude, you’re pretty lucky to have never experienced a situation where someone in “power” has been a jerk to you. You must be really good looking or be a real smooth talker, maybe both. Unfortunately I think you’re in a very small minority, most of us know exactly what it’s like.

          And apparently you missed my other comment, that if legal americans can’t answer these questions, how could illegals? The form is a catch 22 trap, I’m sure the people who designed it know that, so it begs the question what is it really for.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s still valid to ask, for the ~1% that *do* get this form, is there any possible way they can answer it all? If not, isn’t it de facto refusal?

      Also, is America backwards? Where do you apply for a passport without determining citizenship first? Can a non-citizen legally get an American passport for any reason whatsoever? I doubt that.

      Oh, never mind, I just remembered. Birthright citizenship technically means if you’re born on American soil to an illegal-immigrant mother, you’re a citizen, and a lot of Americans are trying to evade that requirement, one way or another.

      Nothing like threatening to arrest and deport everyone you know!

    • Anonymous says:

      Because the government currently has no history of saying they will do thing 1, an then do thing 2.

      We will not racially profile at the airport!
      Muslims and Flagged Rabblerousers to the side please for “random” searches.

      Giving them the ability to do something with their “promise” they will not misuse it is about as smart as believing the dog when he says he will not pull the steak off the counter if you leave the room.

  47. Anonymous says:

    For what it’s worth, the author of TFA, Ed Hasbrouck, wrote a very good book on around the world travel.

    http://www.hasbrouck.org/

  48. Mr. Winka says:

    I submitted my comment. I’m hopeful the government will give my feedback all of the consideration it deserves. Of course, they may just do whatever the hell they want. If they make getting a passport too difficult, I suppose you can try tunneling your way out. God bless America!

  49. Klaus Æ. Mogensen says:

    I’m reminded of John Sladeks old story “Anxietal Register B”, written as a questionnaire along much the same lines, ending with “Have you felt anxiety lately?”

  50. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    If you’re a US citizen, and you don’t yet have a passport, carpe diem. Having a passport is pretty much the only means that native-born citizens have of demonstrating federal recognition of their citizenship, and as such, it has advantages beyond travel.

    If you’re a US citizen, and you have minor children, and they don’t yet have passports, it’s your responsibility to get them. Worst case, you’ll have an easier time getting all the information on where they’ve lived, what jobs they’ve had, when prenatal appointments were, etc. It’s pretty trivial to get a US passport as a child of a US passport holder. It should be seen as the logical next step beyond getting a social security card.

    • Victor Drath says:

      So you’re saying parents should now plan on extensively documenting each and every single thing and event in their child’s life from birth to their 18th birthday now? I guess this would be quite easy to do if you were a hoarder.

      • OldBrownSquirrel says:

        Nonono. Get passports for your kids now, before their life history gets any more complicated. Their lifetime list of addresses, employers, etc. doesn’t ever get shorter. Why wait until they’re eighteen?

  51. traalfaz says:

    My “long form birth certificate” (the only one I have, I guess) has my parent’s address at the time of my birth. That’s pretty much it.

    I don’t even know all my addresses since birth, I sure as heck don’t know my parent’s addresses, and I actually do some genealogical research.

    I was thinking about getting a passport for the first time in my life, it seems like now might be a good time, while it’s still possible to get one. If I had to answer all that stuff I don’t know if I could. I’d probably have to spend a few days in the county courthouse where I grew up looking for records of where my parents lived.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Cripes, that’s the kind of information they used to ask for a low level Department of Energy clearance.

  53. idontwant2liveinoprahsworld says:

    It appears to be similar to completing an online job application for Staples Office Supply Stores.
    Try it sometime, really.
    It takes more knowledge and skill to complete their on-line application than will ever be used or needed on the job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having worked for Staples, and having had to go through 4, 1 hour interviews, to do a lateral move in the corporate offices, there on-line application does not surprise me.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I am a US citizen. To get a US passport for my child at a US foreign consulate, I was required to submit a list of every single trip I took outside the US. Immigration and border agents have unlimited authority and no accountability to a higher process. This is nothing new.

  55. alllie says:

    So now we are prisoners of our capitalist masters and no longer have the freedom to travel outside outside the US, not unless they give us permission. Soon we will need permission to travel inside the US.

    • johnphantom says:

      “Soon we will need permission to travel inside the US.”

      Oh the Dept. of Homeland Security and the TSA are on top of that, don’t worry.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I see three current dangers with this proposal. 1. There is no reason to believe that the present reasons given for the form’s need will never be changed or extended in future. 2. Some questions are no business of anyone else’s. 3. Once filled in, the forms can be used in future to select people for detention or execution. The latter happened in the Netherlands. Before WW2 every resident had to be registered. The form required that one state one’s religion. When the Nazis occupied the country, the forms were used to help round up and murder the majority of Jews then living in Holland. There is no reason to believe that something similar cannot happen again.

  57. pmark says:

    The Soviet Union included such “impossible” questions on mandatory forms for the specific purpose of having a reason to arrest anyone at anytime for having “improper documents” — a tradition which continues to this day.

    No doubt the US government would love to have this ability and has been putting it to use — imagine how easy it would be to control and entire population of criminals.

  58. Anonymous says:

    I don’t even know all the places I’ve lived.

  59. penguinchris says:

    I feel as though the intent here is indeed to be helpful to applicants, not to be impossible – unless you’re not legitimately a citizen. This was brought up in a couple of earlier comments, but I think it bears emphasis. Note that this might not be how this requirement is currently written, but I think this was probably the intent. Hopefully the final version will reflect this, though I have my doubts that they’ll ever do anything right.

    The way it should work is this – if you can’t supply the necessary information (birth certificate etc.), you can provide additional information you think will help. You shouldn’t need to fill out everything on the form if you don’t know it, or can’t easily find it out. Note again that I’m not sure that this is the reality, but that’s how it should be, and this is how it works for other things (such as applying for US citizenship as an immigrant).

    If you are legally a US citizen, some of this information from the form should exist in records held outside your control (state and local records, or whatever). So there should be a few things on this form you can fill out which then the pencil-pushers can look up to verify your story. Presumably there would be guidelines for what’s sufficient, but it may partially be a judgement call whether the information they’re able to confirm is enough (again, this is how it works for applying for US citizenship).

    If you *aren’t* legally a citizen, then you can try to craft a story by planting records or whatever – but it probably won’t work, no matter what you put on this form. I mean really, while I suppose it’s possible, it’s extremely unlikely that you’re legally a citizen but have no birth certificate and absolutely no record of ever existing in the country. If that’s your situation, you’re going to have problems no matter what, even if this form didn’t exist (this form should really, really help you in that case anyway).

  60. penguinchris says:

    I looked in the privacy section of the proposed form, and it says that providing the information – including basic important stuff like social security number – is completely optional.

    Failing to provide information “may result in processing delays or the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

    This is very softly worded, I feel – which implies that my previous comment is correct. You don’t have to fill out all of these details. The more you fill out, of course, the more likely it will be that your application is approved, because there’s more data for them to check against.

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