In 1990, 11.1 million Americans had passports, according to the US State Department, or about 4% of the population (I recall an investment banker at First Boston in a panic because he had to go to Mexico for a deal and did not have his documents). Now, 109.8 million have a pp, or 34% of US citizens (I got mine in 1980). The change, of course, for security : Americans scrutinised by USA Patriot Act signed into law by el presidente in 2001 in response to 911. It allows roving wiretaps, searches of business records (including libraries) and doing surveillance of "lone wolves" - individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups. The irony : the Patriot Act led by the Republicans who otherwise want Big Government off our backs.
So I am not surprised then, passing through US Customs, to find a digital hand scanner (this has been a feature, along with cameras, since 2008). I ask the agent who gets finger printed ? and , for now, it is foreign nationals. Soon, though, it will be any one using an airport : in fact, this would occur now but there is not the budget to tag and track every American. I note that this is an invasion of privacy and the agent replies happily: "only if you are a bad guy."
USA Patriot Act acronym : Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
We connect in Dallas. Madeleine: "Gosh, I've never been to Texas before."