Flag this message Activist? Muslim? Forget Getting A U.S. Passport After April 15

Posted: March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

All,

Since I left the U.S. back in 2003, I have been warning that the U.S. would eventually (and had already begun) to erect a paper Berlin Wall, preventing U.S. citizens from leaving the country by making the paperwork process truly draconian and onerous.  At the time, I was scoffed at as if I were a paranoid nutcase.  That warning is still in my essay on why I expatriated: http://www.bidstrup.com/exile.htm

Well, it turns out I was right.

That moment has now arrived, in the form of a “biographical questionaire,” a proposed Department of State Form DS-5513, which requires you to supply, as part of your application, information which will be almost impossible for you to provide (see a detailed description below), and without any of which you may be denied your passport application.

The upshot is this: If you are an activist and you do not have a currently valid passport, or your passport is within even a few years of expiration (currently, a passport can be renewed at any time), you’d best be getting a renewal application handed in before April 15.  After that date, you may, at the sole discretion of the State Department, be required to submit to this draconian information sweep, without the successful completion of which your right to exit the United States may be and probably would be withheld.

If you will recall your history, one of the ways in which Nazi Germany enforced the Holocaust was by making it almost impossible for Jews to legally flee Germany.  If you are someone that some unaccountable Passport Office bureaucrat doesn’t happen to like, it could be a fate being prepared for you, and if you don’t act quickly, your ability to do something about it could end up be very limited indeed.

If you have ever had any thoughts about expatriating, now is the time to do it.  Don’t wait any longer!  With a valid U.S. passport, the constitution says you can always go back.  But without one, you may never leave!

Scott

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State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants

http://www.papersplease.org/wp/2011/03/18/state-dept-proposes-biographical-questionnaire-for-passport-applicants/

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants. The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information.  According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

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.

The proposed “Biographical Questionnaire” follows the introduction in December 2010 of a new Form DS-11 for all passport applicants. It seems likely that only some, not all, applicants will be required to fill out the new questionnaire, but no criteria have been made public for determining who will be subjected to these additional new written interrogatories.

It’s not clear from the supporting statement, statement of legal authorities, or regulatory assessment submitted by the State Department to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) why declining to discuss one’s siblings or to provide the phone number of your first supervisor when you were a teenager working at McDonalds would be a legitimate basis for denial of a passport to a U.S. citizen.

The State Department is accepting comments for OMB on this proposal on this proposal for 60 days, which began February 14, 2010, and thus should run through April 15, 2011.

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