In February, the State Department recommended the implementation of a new passport application form, DS-5513, that makes our current form look like a field trip permission slip — and today is the last day to cast your vote against it. Here’s a sample of what Uncle Sam might ask future passport applicants to reveal:
– Did your mother receive pre-natal or post-natal medical care? If so, list the name of her doctor and the dates of her appointments.
– Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.
– Please list all of your residences inside and outside of the United States starting with your birth until the present.
– Was there any religious or institutional recording of your birth or event occurring around the time of birth? (Example: baptism, circumcision, confirmation or other religious ceremony. Please provide details including the name, location of the institution, and date.)
But wait, there’s more! The form requires applicants to list residences of all nuclear family members living and deceased, plus fun facts like the name of your supervisor at every place at which you’ve ever been employed, and the address of every school that’s had the pleasure of calling you a pupil.
We get it. Someone in the State Department thinks our current passport application, good ol’ DS-11, isn’t quite as thorough as it should be. But this proposed form belies any sense of moderation. Asking applicants to list the name of their kindergarten alma mater and provide the details of their own circumcision is disturbingly Orwellian. And, on a more practical note, filling out this form would take forever.
Writes PapersPlease.org, “The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form.” Did someone at the State Department actually fill out this form in 45 minutes? I’m impressed. Those bureaucrats must be an efficient bunch. I honestly would need to hire a private investigator to ascertain the phone number of the nurse who helped my mom give birth or dig up the full name of the manager at the supermarket where I bagged groceries for a summer when I was 14 years old. (His name tag read “Bob,” and that’s all I can remember.)
U.S. citizens have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time today, April 25, to submit feedback on form DS-5513. To speak your mind, e-mail GarciaAA@state.gov or submit a comment online at regulations.gov. You can read already submitted comments on regulations.gov as well. I’ve checked, and the majority of comments appear to be fully against the implementation of such a complicated passport application form. Words like “anti-American,” “invasive” and “ridiculous” are copious in the comments. What’s your take?
— written by Caroline Costello