wow: not only do we have to have passports now (as of Jan 14 or so) to fly to Canada and Mexico, but we will have to have passports to cross those borders in a car as of January 2008, and in May 2008 will have to have ID complying with the 2005 REAL-ID law to board an airplane (restricting travel within our own country) and also (I think) to access federal human services programs. States are free not to issue REAL-ID compliant drivers' licenses, but then their residents will have to have passports* to board any plane or access federal programs. The REAL-ID compliant licenses, at least in Maine, would cost people over $100, and require people to show original copies of their birth certificates and social security cards.
You probably know that I have a nine-year-old-daughter. You might not know that I don't technically have full legal custody of her, which means that I can't get a passport for her. I've already given up the idea of ever traveling out of the country until she turns 18, but it sounds like it might mean that we won't be able to travel via airplane at all after May 2008, and could possibly lose our food stamps and healthcare.
Here's the situation: Her dad and I never got married, although his name is listed on her birth certificate. This means that even though I have been solely responsible for finances (with the exception of about $500 in child support over the last nine years), schooling, doctor's appointments, nightmares, conversations about sex and death, childcare during work hours, middle-of-the-night-vomiting, consequences, hugs, backrubs, rollerblading, Christmas presents (okay, you get it)... Even though that's been all me and he's been completely gone for eight years, I can't get a passport for her without his actual presence with me in the passport office so that he can sign the fucking paper. Which is impossible because I don't know where he is.
I found him twice, and I tried to file for custody both times, but he keeps leaving the state every time I serve him with papers because he's afraid I'll get child support out of him.
All I can think of with this REAL-ID stuff is WWII stories about people terrified of being caught out without their identification papers.