Friday, May 25, 2007

Passport Hell

Planning a summer trip out of the country? Do you already have a passport? If you don't, you might not be going.

We have family who are planning to come to San Miguel to see us this summer but the children need passports. Now I'm not sure why the children would need passports. But apparently our government has decided that even a 7 and 11 year old child born in the USA and returning from Mexico with their parents who have passports could be a terrorist threat.

The Houston Chronicle had a story about the passport office in the Federal Building in Houston.

The scene at the George Thomas "Mickey" Leland Federal Building in downtown Houston resembled a soup kitchen. Outside, tired-looking people crowded benches and sprawled on grass. Inside, State Department guards kept teeming hordes at bay in the lobby so they wouldn't add to the lines, snaking through hallways outside the fourth floor passport office.

"We started out in a line to get in a line to get to the elevator so that we could get in a line to get a number to wait in another line," Prothro told me.

Applicants, from El Paso to Oklahoma City, waited like cattle in holding areas, clutching suitcases, gripping manila envelopes of itineraries, some frantically calling congressmen for help. Even those with appointments were shooed by guards to the rear of the line.

While listening to a local Doctor on talk radio in Houston, I got to hear a first-hand report on the situation at the passport office. Usually the talk is about medical issues but this doc was riled up because his wife was in the Passport Hell described above. She applied for a passport in February so that she could go on a mission trip this summer with her church to a Central American Country. Now it was the end of May and she still didn't have a passport. She had tried calling many times to check and then she got an appointment to get an expedited passport. But when she arrived at the appointed time at the Federal Building she was told she would have to stand in line with everyone else. This doc was furious with his government. He wondered how they could even consider making more foreigners citizens when they couldn't even take care of the natural born citizens.

So keep your fingers crossed with me that my grandsons can get their passports. I'd really like for them to come this summer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie-

It should be noted that a passport is NOT required when driving across the border ONLY in the case of flying to Mexico and cruise ships.

There is talk about requiring a passport in 2008 - but I don't think it is going to happen. They are working on some different card for getting across the border - the expense of passports for a family of five is ridiculous.