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Friday, June 08, 2007

Well It's About Damn Time

Finally, the US State Department realized they fucked up and relaxed the passport rules a bit.

Some of you may remember this recent post where it came down to the day before I traveled before I got my passport. This was only after spending literally days on the phone with the passport hot-line, lying about my travel date (I told them I was travelling on 5/23 instead of my actual travel date of 5/25), and several phone calls to my congressman's office to help expedite the processing time. While I was one of the fortunate ones that actually did receive my passport, there were more than a few families that we bumped into while in Mexico who had to leave one or more people behind because their passports never arrived. I'm sure without the previously mentioned actions that I took, I doubt I would have gotten mine either.

I'm all for everyone being required to have passports in order to leave and re-enter the country. I think it's an excellent, simple, and cost effective step forward in helping to secure our borders. But, if the government is going to make it this difficult to do, I'd be willing to change my stance. This quote from Maura Harty, the assistant secretary for consular affairs at the US State Department, just reeks of "It's not our fault" type spin:

"What we did not anticipate adequately enough was the American citizens' willingness and desire to comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative in the time frame that they did."
Shiny positive words like "willingness", "desire", and "comply" indicate that applying for a passport is some cheery process that everyone was really looking forward to doing. WRONG! You passed a law and made it mandatory. People knew that if they didn't have a passport, they weren't going to get on the plane. It wasn't a matter of willingness or desire.

And you can't tell me that the EFFING US GOVERNMENT doesn't have travel data about how many people fly to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada each year. Sweet Christ! Your local travel agent has that kind of information.

Here's what that quote should have looked like:

"We apologize to the American people for this massive oversight by the US State Department. We did not do adequate research on the number of American citizens that travel to these destinations to which the new passport laws apply. Furthermore, we had neither the staff nor the infrastructure in place to handle the increased demand for passports when this law was passed. Our sincerest apologies go out to all Americans who's travel plans have been affected by this mistake."
Buck up and take the blame guys. You passed the law, now deal with it.

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