Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Here's My Passport, Baby

It’s 2009 and you know what that means. Time to crack down on the vexing problem of undocumented infants crossing national borders all willy-nilly. Yes, the new rules are in place. If you are going to Canada with a baby, that baby needs a passport. (If you’re going to Mexico, as always no problem getting in, but if you want to come back to the U.S., you’d better have a passport for that baby of yours.)

Three days old? Still needs a passport.

And I quote from the U.S. Department of State’s travel website: “All children regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must have their own passport

Here’s just one of the questions that brings up for me: How do you go about getting a passport for a newborn? If it takes the government two months to make my passport and send it to me, how exactly do I get one for a two week old?? Do we take a passport photo of mommy’s belly at the 7 month mark and cross our fingers?

Speaking of passport photos, the website’s photo guidelines brought up another series of questions for me regarding newborns:

“Your Photographs Must Be:”
- “Identical “– Better make a copy of the first one, because this kid hasn’t stopped squirming since he was born.
- “In color” – No problem, he’s very pink.
- “2 x 2 inches in size” – Dang near life-sized on a 6 pounder.
- “Taken within the past 6 months, showing current appearance” – Um, Duh! And how do you take a picture of someone that does not show their current appearance?
-“Full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background” – His spit-up is off-white, so no problem there.
- “Taken in normal street attire:” – I hope normal crib attire will suffice, because we don’t let him out on the street just yet.
- “Uniforms should not be worn in photographs except religious attire that is worn daily” – He hasn’t joined the Army yet, but he does wear white onesies religiously. Does that count?
-“Dark glasses or nonprescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them for medical reasons (a medical certificate may be required)” – He has super-cool baby shades, but the only medical certificate we have is his birth certificate, so I think the shades are out.
-“If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should be worn for your picture” – No glasses or hearing aids yet, but he doesn’t seem to respond appropriately to sights and sounds, so we may look into it.
- “Do not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline” – We have to keep a cute little beanie on him or his head gets cold. However, he doesn’t have any hair to speak of anyway, so I’m not sure which way to go with this one. The beanie is his normal crib attire, so I think we’re in a gray area here….

Another bit of good news on the website is the ease with which the application process will progress. I was happy to learn that the child and both parents need to be present at the post office when we present our photos and form DS-11. If I’m not available, my wife can bring the ever-so-easy-to-obtain notarized letter from me stating that it’s OK for her to get my children their passports that we are required by law to get them. I guess one too many dysfunctional families ruined it for the rest of us. Can’t steal the kids anymore, sweetheart!

What genius (that we no doubt elected at some point) decided that newborns and infants needed passports? What are we trying to accomplish here?

“Immigration Team Bravo – Swarm on terminal 12 at the international gate – We have a Zulu Tango – I repeat, a Zulu Tango. It’s little James Smith. An alert Customs agent recognized his tell-tale soft spot. He’s on the Rocklin Mom’s Club Holy Terror watch list. He goes by several known aliases. “Jimmy-Jimmy-Bo-Bimmy”, “Mr. Poopy Drawers”, and when overseas, “SeƱor Poopy Pantalones”. – We finally caught up to him. Good work team!”

One bright spot is that minor’s passports are good for five years. That ought to work out great. I see no future problems at the immigration counter when my four year old’s passport has a photo of him as a three month old. Good job over there at the Bureau of Consular Affairs. You guys are really on the ball!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2009 Marc Schmatjen

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