Current Issues

State Dept. unnecessarily revokes registrants’ passports; NARSOL, others, ask them to stop

An advocate in Switzerland contacted NARSOL with a suggestion: We should organize a sign-on letter to the State Department asking them to cease revoking the passports of registered citizens who met the Angel Watch criteria of needing a “special identifier” affixed to their passports.

As NARSOL has previously successfully organized two sign-on letters— one to Patch regarding “red-dot” Halloween maps and the other to state attorneys general regarding the American Law Institute’s (ALI) revised penal code for sexual offenses — we agreed to do this.

This is the letter sent.

Rachel M. Arndt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services

Dear Ms. Arndt,

Our organizations represent the nearly one million Americans who register for sex offenses or they are organizations in sympathy with the plight of their fellow Americans. We are writing to you regarding the troubling number of cases of passport revocations affecting our members, their families, their employees and other dependents. We believe that there is a simple way to mitigate some of the harm these revocations have caused, and we urge you to consider doing so, as follows.

As you know, passports may be revoked for a number of reasons, but all of these reasons stem from the actions (or inactions, as in not paying federal income tax) of the individual passport holder. This is the first time that we are aware of that an entire class of U.S. citizens faces having a passport revoked through no specific action on their part, aside from having on their record a historic conviction, which may date back many decades.

Revocation is especially frightening for travelers overseas. Their passports may be the only proof of citizenship they possess. Revoking them places them in jeopardy in their host countries and, in our view, hinders the ability of the State Department to fulfill its primary mission of protecting all American citizens.

There is a ready solution. The language of the International Megan’s Law states that the State Department shall include a unique identifier in the passport of a covered individual but that it may revoke a passport without this identifier.

Therefore, we urge you to cease revoking the passports of these covered individuals. Passports are routinely amended, pages are added, and so on, without the need for revocation or the issuance of an entirely new passport. Adding or removing the unique identifier could be done in the same way with much less harm.

Thank you for your attention.

The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) – sponsor

<The names of all participating organizations followed.>

We mailed the letter by registered mail February 1, 2024, a Thursday. Tracking showed that it was given into the possession of someone in the State Dept. on Monday, February 5. As of today, February 19, there has been no response or acknowledgment from the State Dept.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.