Remove the US State Department Promissory Note for Evacuees
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The destruction of hurricane Irma in the Caribbean has impacted many Americans. They have been through a horrific event that no one needs to imagine because there are many videos on the Internet showing the brutal force of this storm. After the storm was over, many islands in the Caribbean were so severely damaged, there was no water, no food, no electricity, and very limited communications. For those impacted, all they wanted was to get off this island and back home to safety.
The US State Department is responsible for assisting citizens in these situations. Before you travel internationally, they encourage you to register with them so in the event you need to be evacuated, they already know where you are to expedite the efforts. What they don't tell you is if you have to be rescued they will send you a bill and make you sign a promissory note for the transportation costs. A US State Department form DS5528 "Evacuee Manifest and Promissory Note" is used for this purpose. If you fail to repay the loan, they limit your passport so you can't travel internationally or renew it.
This policy needs to be changed so US Citizens, who assumingly have paid their taxes, don't get another bill for these transportation costs. I urge Mr. Carl Risch, the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, to review this policy and abolish its practice immediately. The humanitarian efforts and compassion for US Citizens trapped in these horrible conditions, most of them in these situations as a result of no fault of their own.
As a nation that prides itself in showing other people in the world compassion in their time of need, I believe we need to do the same for our own citizens.
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