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Want a Passport? Better Find Your Circumcision Records!

When I applied for my first U.S. passport many years ago, I merely completed a simple application form and forked over $25 to the State Department. A few weeks later, my little blue book arrived, ready to accept stamps from friendly immigration agents worldwide. That world ended on Sept. 11, 2001. Ordering a passport now sets you back $135, and you must also provide your Social Security number. According to the State Department: “Your Social Security Number will be provided to Treasury, used in connection with debt collection and checked against lists of persons ineligible or potentially ineligible to receive a US passport, among other unauthorized uses.” Currently, you don’t need to present copies of prior years’ tax returns to renew your passport, but Congress could impose this requirement anytime. But that’s not enough. The State Department has proposed a new “Biographical Questionnaire” that, if approved, you might have to complete to receive a passport. Sample entries on the proposed Form DS-5513 include: Your mother’s residence one year before your birth Your mother’s residence one year after your birth Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth Details of your mother’s pre-natal or post-natal medical care, if any Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth Details of the type of document, if any, your mother used to enter into the United States before your birth The circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number) of persons present or in attendance at your birth. If there were any religious or institutional recoding of your birth or event occurring around the time of birth (Example: baptism, circumcision, confirmation or other religious ceremony). A list of every address at which you’ve ever resided since birth. The name and telephone number of every supervisor you’ve had at every job in your life, including as a temporary worker. The name, address, and telephone number of every school you’ve ever attended. You can see the draft Form DS-5513 for yourself here. If I didn’t already have a passport, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with many of these details. My parents are deceased. I don’t know if my mother received pre-natal care, although I do have the name of the doctor who delivered me (also deceased). Circumcision? Well, I don’t recall the details. Does the State Department plan to inspect my foreskin as a condition of receiving a passport? And I would be hard pressed to recall every job I’ve ever had and every residence I’ve ever occupied, especially if I had to do so under penalty of perjury. What’s more, the State Department can share the information on Form DS-5513 as a “routine use.” Who can receive it? Almost anyone: U.S. and foreign government agencies, private contractors, employers, international organizations, etc.

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