Donald Trump’s presidency and the hateful rhetoric he brings with him certainly created waves of uneasiness among millions of immigrants — documented or not — in the United States. It flipped my personal “panic on” switch, particularly when immigration agents started rounding up mostly brown people for overstaying their welcome (or something like that) here.
A naturalized American who came here (and still speaks) with a thick Filipino accent, it feels as if I have to always be prepared to show proof that I am here legally, especially in case I’m confronted by any member of the 45th’s army of bigots.
Could my driver’s license be enough? Probably not. So I decided to cough up $55 to get a passport card. It turned out every alarmed immigrant had the same idea. The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented migrants has prompted thousands others like me to hit the road to passport centers across the nation.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU-TV reported that overwhelmed post offices and passport processing centers had to turn away thousands of applicants. “A passport center is capable of processing just 30 applications per day, which is why large crowds of hundreds of people have been given tickets and asked to come back the next day,” according to a report from Daily Mail.
In Austin, Texas, the American-Statesman reported that lines at the passport processing center started forming three hours before the office opens. It added the office typically processes about 80 applications during slower months and peaks at about 200 during busy months. “But now they’re hitting 200 even with shutting the doors halfway through the day.”
In Modesto, Calif., many people who show up at the passport processing center hours before the office opens are being handed out tickets to return the following day.
I turned in my application for a passport card at the Roseville City Clerk on Feb. 15. Two weeks later, it has yet to show up in the State Department’s online status check system. Worried that it got lost in the mail (and extremely scared, although without precedent, that my anti-Trump posts on Facebook finally reached the Trump White House, which decided to cancel my citizenship), I called their toll free number and was told it’s under process.
I’d probably get my existing passport book (submitted as proof of citizenship) and my new passport card between the last week of March and first week of April. That’s still within the window of the State Department’s published six-week processing time for routine service.
Meanwhile, I keep a paper copy of my existing passport in my backpack and a digital copy on my phone — as well as a pdf copy in my email’s inbox, sent and draft folders. Yes, I know, that’s a bit too extreme. Given the xenophobic climate hounding America thanks but no thanks to the current administration’s white supremacist disposition, however, one can never be extremely prepared.