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General News

State Department Press Release Reveals “Unique Identifier” for Passports

The U.S. State Department issued a press release on Friday, October 27, that revealed both the wording and placement of a “unique identifier” to be added to the passports of some, but not all, registrants.    According to that press release, the language “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(1)” will be printed on the inside back cover of new passports issued to those convicted of a sex offense involving a minor and currently required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction.

“It appears that the State Department press release may be in violation of federal law which requires agencies to issue regulations before making decisions such as the language and placement of a unique identifier on a registrant’s passport,” stated Executive Director Janice Bellucci.  “Additional research is required before a determination can be made about whether and how to legally challenge the State Department’s press release.”

The issue of a “unique identifier” for passports was initiated in the International Megan’s Law (IML), passed by Congress and signed by the President in February 2016.  The IML requires the Secretary of State to add a “unique identifier” to newly issued passports for some, but not all, registrants.  In addition, the IML allows, but does not require, the Secretary of State to revoke existing passports that do not contain a “unique identifier”.

The IML was challenged in federal district court in California in February 2016.  In that case, the judge denied the request of seven plaintiffs to issue a Preliminary Injunction which could have stopped implementation of the IML.  The seven plaintiffs included husbands of women who live in countries where they were denied entry, businessmen and the son of a man who lives in Iraq and would be killed if identified in that country as a registrant.  The judge later granted the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case.

The Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq., requires agencies to issue regulations prior to implementing a new law.  Normally, this process requires the issuance of proposed regulations followed by a public comment period and then issuance of a final regulation.  Under extraordinary circumstances, an agency is allowed to issue a final regulation without first issuing a proposed rule and considering public comments.  The State Department claimed extraordinary circumstances and issued a final regulation on September 2, 2016.  The agency’s regulation, however, did not address the issue of a “unique identifier” for passports but instead focused upon the notification provisions of the IML.  After the State Department issued its IML regulation, ACSOL submitted a formal petition to that regulation on September 8, 2016.

“The ACSOL board of directors will conduct a meeting on November 4 to discuss this important matter,” stated Bellucci.  “The board will announce the results of its meeting no later than November 6.”

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/news/passports-international-megans-law.html

Join the discussion

  1. AJ

    This morning I heard a news snippet on the radio about the Scarlet Letter. The State Department was quoted as saying it doesn’t prevent anyone from leaving the country, and does not invalidate one’s passport. Therein lies the sneaky, duplicitous truth about IML and the designator. The Government throws up its hands and says, “we’re not stopping anyone from leaving, we’re just stating facts and letting other sovereigns decide their courses of action.” We all know that’s rubbish.

    This concept made me think about the wording of both the designator and Green Notices in the framework of CT DPS. Not only is there no “dangerousness not determined” waiver attached to either of these items, but the Green Notice specifically *states* dangerousness, despite no proof of such.

    Green Notices sent by USG would seem to violate what SCOTUS used to excuse CT DPS. That the Government is saying such to foreign, versus domestic, entities shouldn’t matter, especially since they are doing so before I’ve left US soil–meaning my Constitutional rights are not at all diminished by being out of country. Perhaps attacking Green Notices isn’t to be done at the point of refusal by sovereigns, but at point of issue by USG. One could go through all the IML steps, ping Interpol for one’s records, then not travel.

    IMO, the designator is more visible, but somewhat less prejudicial than the Green Notice, and it still does not address the dangeroussness of the traveler. What makes the designator problematic is that its effects and results don’t kick in until already at a foreign border control point. The only way I could see to combat that would be to apply for a visa from an embassy or consulate while still on US soil, and await the refusal. By so doing, one is able to separate the person from the passport (and save some time and money on the wasted travel–and would isolate the designator from the Green Notice, thus avoiding obfuscation of the issue.

    • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

      “The only way I could see to combat that would be to apply for a visa from an embassy or consulate while still on US soil, and await the refusal.”

      Well, if the country does not require a tourist visa then there is really no way to apply for a visa. At least, I assume that. I can’t imagine them providing visas when they are not needed. You could apply for a business visa if they require that, I suppose, even if you’re not going to be doing any business, although business visas often require a national with whom you will be doing business to sponsor you.

      RegistrantTAG now reports that India is a no-go for us. They didn’t mention if someone had been blocked on entry and had to turn around or if they were refused a tourist visa since India does require a tourist visa and, equally stupidly (from an economic perspective, given that India is a basket case that needs all of the investment and trade it can get), makes you jump through a couple of hoops for a business visa, which I have had to get a half-dozen times.

      Most of the authoritarian or undeveloped countries require business visas if you’re going to be doing business, such as India and China and Indonesia, etc.

      • Mike G

        Having a visa is no guarantee of anything. I went to a lot of trouble to get a visa before I tried to travel. Made a special trip to the consulate in Los Angeles, paid a fair amount of money, and was granted a multi-visit visa with no problem. When I got to the foreign airport, I was met by a group of security people while getting off the plane. They couldn’t have cared less that I had a visa. They had a letter from Angel Watch along with a photo copy of a page off some website, that Angel watch included with their letter, with my picture and a label of Child Predator. They wouldn’t even let me meet my wife’s family, who were waiting in the airport, before they put me on a plane back home. They did let my wife, who was traveling with me, go talk to her family and drop off some presents we had brought, before she went back home with me.

        • AJ

          @Mike G:
          You missed my point. It has nothing at all to do with needing, or even using, a visa. It has to do with “presenting” one’s passport to a foreign entity while still on US soil, in order to guarantee one’s Constitutional rights. That all said, your experience sounds as though AW went beyond its legal mandate. How being tasked with sending a Green Notice becomes sending a letter, some website pages, and “Child Predator” designation is beyond me.

      • AJ

        I was writing under the assumed premise that one applies to a country that requires visas and turns away RCs. Your example of India fits the bill. Australia, too. There must be a few more out there that fit both criteria. Though only one is needed, having a few refusals would maybe make for a stronger argument.

        • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

          The problem with Australia is that they are one of the Five Eyes and so they have been blocking Registrants from the U.S. for some time and have an additional system for facilitating it peculiar to the Five Eyes. So, I would say that isn’t a good test unless, of course, you want/need to go there.

    • T

      What sense does it make for registered citizens to go through the notification process for travel, only to find out later when they arrive at a foreign destination that they can’t be allowed in, sent back and given extra scrutiny and has to explain to CBP at US Customs inspection about being sent back and their past conviction, while officials in the media are saying that registrants are not being prevented from traveling? These officials are in denial.

      • AlexO

        Aside from notifications being a thing at all, my biggest complaint is that we can’t get a solid yes or no. I don’t want to risk wasting money and a whole lot of stress on a maybe. It creates a true torturous situation. Even more so if your traveling with your kids. Nothing like seeing daddy or mommy being manhandled and forced back on the plane instead that fun trip you’ve been talking about. Talk about victimizing children.

      • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

        What we all know is that the U.S. doesn’t want us to travel at all. While it may seem ludicrous, Chris Smith, the author of IML and its primary cheerleader, has explicitly said that he doesn’t want sex offenders to travel. This directly contradicts his floor speeches in which he said that it was not the intent of IML to prevent Registrants from traveling. His statements to the contrary should be part of any future challenge to IML.

        So, in this respect, the law makes perfect sense because it HAS discouraged me from travel since these notification of foreign government policies were in place several years before the law passed, now five years ago. It’s simply too expensive, stressful and, most of all creates a record of having been refused entry into a country which I might otherwise be able to again travel to if the law is eventually overturned.

        It’s deliberate intimidation and is the worst, most flagrant and systematic government bullying in the sphere of freedom of movement I have ever seen.

        The Soviet Union provides a perfect parallel to what our country is doing.

        • Sam

          Does anyone know how this is going to effect us living overseas? I don’t want to go to visit family and get my passport seized or not be able to renew my visa here because my passport has been revoked without notifying me as I’m not living in the US

  2. USA

    Great News! I support this and Static 99!! Let’s protect our children!!!

  3. mike r

    If I remember correctly I think USA stated he is a former law enforcement. Sure seems to have that mentality…SAD….Sexual battery, reduced, or expunged..Still worse than a lot of so called child offenders who never forced anyone to do anything against their will.

    • Tim Moore

      “243.4. (a) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery.”

      • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

        Hell, even I didn’t do THAT! Everyone was willing and able 🙂

      • mike r

        Is it reducible?? If so, I think that would be USA’s. I hear you David….Anyone that used force/prepubescence child, I believe needs some help. Sure as helllllllllll don’t need to be thinking they are better then most of us on here that aren’t violent, or real pedophiles…

  4. David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

    There is so much redundancy of information crossing borders. The notation on the back page, for that purpose, is pretty symbolic. The problem is that it also communicates our status to anyone else we present our passport to, such as hotels or banks (necessary when banking outside of the U.S.). The RFID may or may not contain offender status. It’s certainly in their power to do so, but it’s hardly necessary. As I’ve noted before, I see multiple avenues towards giving border agents our status: 21 day advance notice disseminated on a per-trip basis by the U.S. Angel Watch, continuous criminal record information on INTERPOL provided to them by the U.S. and which is available to 190 countries at border crossings, the passenger name record (PNR) which alerts the U.S. when a Registrant has booked a flight and which it will then forward to destination countries, any third-party databases which countries might have access to (and this could well be the federal sex offender website), and now the passport, itself.

    We’re so dangerous that they need all of this redundancy, apparently.

    • AJ

      “We’re so dangerous that they need all of this redundancy, apparently.”
      —–
      Plus, the more difficult and byzantine things are, the greater chance a RC will trip up, thereby showing just how dangerous we are for “trying to dodge” the laws.

    • Tim Moore

      Well if we weren’t dangerous before, now they have taken away almost all that makes us human, one more law like this and someone is going to explode.

  5. USA

    Very sad! I think Mike R just hit it on the nail!
    I.e.: ..Still worse than a lot of so called child offenders who never forced anyone to do anything against their will.

    Yeah!

  6. Eric Knight

    Basically, this codification for the Yellow Star was the trigger that essentially invalidates the state’s original victory because at the time of the case, no passport markings were currently present. Now that they have been codified, the case should be brought up, preferably with an accelerated schedule because of the basis of the original decision.

    Will a new $175 cost be assessed on the revocation/reissue of passports? That’s another consideration and fact that can be thrown into the punitive mix.

  7. drifter

    Does this apply to everyone that has to register? Or anyone on the National Sex Offender Registry?

    I have never been listed on Megan’s website and my only conviction was a sexual battery misdemeanor.

    Was planning on traveling to Europe in the next year but this could put a dent in my plans.

    • AlexO

      I believe this mainly (only?) applies if you you’re victim was a minor.

      But even if you do get it, you’ll be fine to travel to Europe. Germany and pretty much all surrounding counties have always ignored the notice and welcomes RCs without any hassling. This isn’t likely to change anything. And once youve landed you can move between the countries like here in states.

      • NY Level1

        NO! NO! NO!
        You are supplying information to the government where you are going! If you fool around they can trace that as easily as 1 2 3 and you will be arrested for non-compliance. How stupid is this suggestion????

        • CR

          Can you explain more thoroughly what you are saying is incorrect?

          This is what I understand, currently. I could be wrong…

          The new passport “endorsement” applies to covered sex offenders with a child victim. That is what the endorsement says. If it sweeps in other registrants who did not offend against a child, that will surely be litigated.

          The green notices are a different thing. All registrants, whether they have a child victim or not, are required to give 21 day notice of international travel. The green notices will be sent. But their passports won’t have the endorsement.

          What AlexO said about Western Europe, excluding UK and Ireland is true, for now at least. (I don’t count Russia as Western Europe).

    • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

      Only if a “child” was a “victim” in your crime.

      Also, Western Europe, except for the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland and Russia allows us in.

  8. T

    What sense does it make for registered citizens to go through the notification process and the unique identifier for travel, only to find out later when they arrive at a foreign destination that they can’t be allowed in, sent back and given extra scrutiny and has to explain to CBP at US Customs inspection about being sent back and their past conviction, while officials in the media are saying that registrants are not being prevented from traveling? These officials are in denial that nothing bad is going to happen and ignoring the problem.

    • Tim Moore

      If they discourage us from traveling, they can claim mission accomplished. Do they care if it actually fights trafficking? I think not. They are akin to the ones who looked for the WMD’s in Iraq. They want to claim mission accomplished before the apathetic public realizes it is a joke at our expense. If they ever realize it.

  9. michael

    KCAL Channel 9 LA reported at 930pm today that the state department is RECALLING passports of all RSO’s (good luck ! they send me a letter asking for mine back… its going into the TRASH !!)

    • So Over It

      What about all of those offenders who are not in the registry yet because they were never caught. They all get to travel freely! It is amazing how much terrorism is going on in this world and people dying, yet WE are the “dangerous” ones. Really?
      A friend of mine works at an airport here in USA with a lot of Filipinos and he says that they go there and come back and brag about all of their underage sexual escapades. It happens everyday there and many other places, but we need to be watched? It is so incredible to me. My crime was just returning an email to a minor age 15. I guess my passport will be marked as well? Never touched anyone!

      • Tired of this

        Yep, my thoughts exactly. Gangbanger thugs with hair-trigger tempers and rap sheets longer than your arm running amok in the cities, people setting off bombs at marathons, mass murders at music venues, repeat drunk drivers wiping out families…but we are the ones who need watching. Really f***ing pisses me off.

        As for the poster you replied to, yep, if I get a notice to return my passport (which I frequently use as ID for privacy reasons), it absolutely goes in the round file. We need to resist.

        • David Kennerly, Diminishing Shelf-Life

          The only problem with losing a passport is that State then puts you into a special category of (future) passport holders who may or may not have actually lost their passport but are claiming to have had. In other words, they regard you with suspicion. A police report might help. There are some ramifications such as notating the file available to foreign officials stating that there was possibly a suspicious second passport under the passport holder’s name. I think they may even mark your replacement passport (yes, again!). I got delayed entry into China for several hours once because they said that I showed up as someone who had traveled under a different and possibly lost U.S. Passport. They were vague about it and I tried to find out what they were talking about but they felt no obligation to expand on it. They can be fairly surly. Yes, that was confusing especially since I had never done so, i.e. I’ve never lost my passport or reported it missing. This was just a month after getting my newly renewed passport which was held up in the Passport Office for an additional week while they, yes, investigated what they said was a “second passport.” They didn’t elaborate either but wanted me to swear that I had not made a claim to have lost a passport or something to that effect. Very strange and completely mystifying but it does demonstrate that the Chinese would then have had available to them that same adverse or suspicious information alert which State apparently never bothered to remove from my record after investigating it. The State Department had cleared me, by the way with the Passport clerk suggesting that it was an error on their end. Not good communication there but that’s the government. They don’t treat those matters lightly.

          So, that’s a long and windy way of saying that one may want to think twice about actually “losing” or misplacing a passport. There may be consequences. They don’t treat it lightly.

          • PK

            If you were to report your Passport lost, please don’t attempt to use it to gain entry into the United States. I could think of one scenario that gimmick could be feasible if you were living outside of the United States. I would elaborate further, but really when it comes to things like this, it’s best for each and everyone of us, to think outside of the box

  10. MikeR

    USA, your sooo right!

  11. mike r

    Whose trying to use my moniker? I never agree with USA, he has never been constructive but has always seen everything as it affects him. Love how everyone just ignores his B.S. I am trying but it isn’t easy when there is so much ammo….

  12. mike r

    @AlexO:
    Please don’t feed the animals.

    great response AJ…

  13. Timothy D A Lawver

    “The distinction intolerable” Brown V BOE. If no liberty at stake who would complain?
    J.P. Stevens.

  14. Mike r

    I truly agree with USA! The new passport law rocks!

  15. T

    I have a question, what happens if you decided not to get the new passport with the unique identifier and not travel period, and will there be a new law in the future that passports are mandatory for traveling domestically as well as traveling internationally? Hopefully my question is understood.

  16. T

    Is it possible to have a protest against the IML and the unique identifier again like last year?

  17. Robert

    “The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

    I believe that we must continue to travel even if with a marked passport until physically unable to travel any longer. I intend to travel until the government’s actions against me physically stops me from travelling abroad. Allowing myself to be psychologically prevented from travel would mean that I succumb to the predisposed state that the government has intended with this unconstitutional policy. Until relief comes, as unfortunate as it might be, some of us will likely suffer harm.

    I have been deported /blacklisted three times now and it is a brutal process. I was blacklisted in my wife’s country for over a year. The blacklist order was overcome after my wife and I legally challenged it in her country. We prevailed when the facts of my case and my purpose for travelling to my wife’s country were actually looked at by the immigration court. We were denied several times before they actually looked at the evidence submitted. It was absolutely necessary to get back up, stand up for the truth and stand for myself. These challenges have been my own acts of civil disobedience against the US government.

    It is utterly appalling that our government can, without any due process, broadcast to other foreign countries that we are a threat to its citizens and that we are likely to commit a future crime when indeed this is not true. Our government, without any factual data, can link us to child sex tourism abroad when we know this to be an outright false association.

    I feel strongly that we will prevail against the government in time. The truth – being facts and data – are on our side. Also on our side is the changing tide as witnessed by some recent positive court decisions and many positive media articles.

    • Mike G

      “I feel strongly that we will prevail against the government in time.”
      Thank you for being an optimist Robert. The problem is, some of us don’t have that many healthy travel years left.

    • alienated

      Robert,

      Thanks for your comments and commitment to the cause. I wish I was as strong as you but I fear the worst and will wait to here others experience rather than taking the risk.

      I applaud you for taking it for the Team!!!

  18. Sam

    I have concerns as I live overseas. They have my address here but I was told prior that the government would not mail anything outside of the US. So the only way to know if my passport is one of those affected is to constantly contact the US embassy here and as stated prior by another person this action(revoking my passport) could in turn make me an illegal alien and subject to arrest even though I have a visa and working permit here.

    If that isn’t limiting travel other than straight up revoking my freedom I don’t know what is.

    This is a very slippery slope. If the people let the government get away with this the US should kiss any freedoms it has goodbye. I learned growing up that the constitution says if we find the government unjust to overthrow it. But now to even do that is illegal. The whole system of the current government is unconstitutional in a sense

    • Mike G

      Sorry to read about your situation Sam. Hope you don’t get caught up in this mess.
      Sadly, the US is now governed by emotion rather than facts or common sense. “Public Safety” and “Protect the Children” trumps anything written in the constitution.

      • Sam

        I have faith in my country that everything will be alright (not talking about the US)
        If worse comes to worse I’ll just get my new passport with my markings and carry on.
        Then I’ll just transfer my visa and working pass and go on with my life. I just may not be able to travel as much after. At least until I can get my citizenship here or possibly Korea (depending if I can get all my family paperwork) and throw away my US passport

  19. mike r

    OK Mike r, it is obvious you are crazy by your comment, so why don’t you stop using my moniker( in case you don’t know what that word means, “screen name” “Internet Identifier”)???Wow takes all kinds….

  20. Robert R.

    SOS …Same Old Sh.. There is no thinking involved with this new law, as with most of the sex offense laws. It is punishing someone for a crime that has not yet been committed. If someone is abusing a child then then lock them up, don’t punish someone for what they might do.
    Actually I am surprised they didn’t apply this to people convicted of adult crimes as well.
    At least they made this distinction. Usually any person that has been convinced of any type of sex crime is thrown into the same category.

    There are so many laws/ordinances on the books that includes those convicted of harming an adult, with laws directed at those that harmed a child. The profile of these offenders are apples and oranges.

    • Sam

      There are a lot of different situations and ways that should be classified.

      More things should be taken into consideration besides lumping everyone under the same umbrella and treating everyone like monsters.

      Someone who kidnaps and holds an adult at knife point and rapes them (this was in the news here a few days ago) should not be treated as less of a crime because the victim is over 18.

      In the same way a guy meeting a girl at a bar shouldn’t be treated like a pedophile for the rest of his life when he later finds out that she wasn’t old enough to be in the bar where he met her.

      There are so many different circumstances and yet the government likes to blanket everyone into the category as an offender.

      There are some really really sick people who are actively going after young children, but there is an even larger group of people who made one mistake when they were young.

      If someone hasn’t committed a new crime in 10years and shows no signs of doing it again (like they got their shit together and have tried to live as a normal law abiding person) I don’t understand why they cannot be left to do so.

      Punish them at the time the crime is committed and they most likely won’t do it again (unless there is something really wrong with them.)

      Yes there are victims who are severely scarred by the crimes committed against them but there are also those who had just put men behind bars because they were angry. (growing up in Michigan I saw many of the people I went to school with end up in prison because they had gotten into an argument with their girlfriends and under the laws passed at the time we’re not allowed to present any evidence in their defense as it would discredit the female’s testimony)

      In short no two cases are the same and they should not all be treated the same regardless what a prosecutor or law may say as many of this is baseless and run on fear.

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