Pick a Passport—Any Passport. Just Not The Dark Blue One.

By Lola

Seriously folks, this passport thing has been announced FOR OVER A YEAR and still we’re finding snarls, delays and numerous other red tape entanglements. To those of you who waited UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO ORDER YOUR PASSPORT: what in Bush’s name were you thinking? It seems like every other thing in this administration has moved at a snail’s pace (well, except anything that has to do with sending 18-year-olds to war or spending inordinate amounts of money on finding out if there’s ice on Mars) so why not this whole passport fiasco?

Was the government agency in charge of processing every single American citizen’s passport ready for the obvious onslaught come summer travel time? Methinks not.

In its place, our fearless government has instituted a six-month delay on the rule that Americans present passports when entering the US at a land or sea border crossing. What they obviously forgot to trumpet was the fact that a drivers license AND a birth certificate were BOTH needed to get in and out. Just ask the crowd that got denied boarding on that Mexicana flight today. Boy, were they happy.

Here’s a tidbit from the newsmakers: “Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the proposed rules and new flexibility after a passport requirement for air travel to those countries produced months-long delays in processing passport applications at the State Department.” Duh.

However: “Even as recently as last week, DHS officials had insisted in the face of a public outcry that they were going forward with the tougher regulations on land and sea crossings starting in January.” Really.

OK, pick your poison guys, or as they say in the Wild West… Well, I won’t even go there. I’ll side with Rep. Thomas Reynolds (a Republican, so there you go), who called it “more of the same bureaucratic doublespeak.”

On that happy note, I can tell you this: Don’t wait to get your passport four weeks before your trip. Don’t expect to get your passport SIX weeks before your trip. Even if you spent the extra $60 THERE’S NO GUARANTEE.

Heed the warning: GIVE YOURSELF AT LEAST TWO TO THREE MONTHS (8 TO 12 WEEKS FOR THOSE WHO ARE COUNTING) before your trip in order to have your passport in hand when you try to criss-cross the border. You will be a much happier camper. Trust me. And that sweet little baby of yours? SHE NEEDS ONE, TOO. Age is no excuse.

I myself have to switch out my passport (a very needed name change, in case you’re wondering) and I have already sent in my paperwork even though I won’t be traveling to Mexico to see friends and family until December. Better safe than sorry, frazzled and totally bent out of shape, I always say.

There’s no getting around this folks: that lovely 2×2 taken at Walgreen’s will have to be endured. Smile at the camera: your friendly neighborhood immigration agent will be happy you did.