• U.S. Passports of Sex Offenders to Be Marked

    February 11, 2016 // 17 Comments »

    frank moss


    There is of course no “right” to travel. The government, via the Department of State, decides who gets a passport and who may travel on one.

    The first step is that it is the Department of State which decides you are indeed entitled to a nice, blue passport. No birth certificate? Problem. Born in Canada, albeit to two American parents? Maybe we need to talk. Constitution-level stuff.

    Next up are the reasons you can have your passport revoked: treason, national security stuff, swearing allegiance to a foreign power. Pretty heavy stuff, lots of laws, and court challenges can be involved.


    Congress Restricts Travel

    But the Congress has quietly been side-slipping in restrictions on travel.

    An old one is child support. If you owe $2500 of it, no passport. Congress is also flirting with revoking or denying passports to Americans “affiliated” with terror organization and/or seeking to travel abroad for jihad. And there is a move to deny passports to Americans who owe too much in back taxes.

    Sex Offenders’ Passports to Be Marked

    Now, to that growing list add this one: Legislation requiring the State Department to identify registered sex offenders with a special mark on their passports, and to revoke those passports already issued unmarked, was signed on February 8 by Obama. The law (Public Law No: 114-119) also authorizes notification to a destination country (including its visa-issuing agents in the United States) of impending or current international travel of a child-sex offender to that country.

    International Megan’s Law, is supposedly to help prevent sex trafficking, since sex offenders “hop on planes and go to places for a week or two and abuse little children,” the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), said. Smith of course had no actual figures to substantiate his argument, nor did he acknowledge that State can already deny a passport to those convicted of sex tourism involving minors.

    Offenses Against Minors?

    In addition to the new law being the first time in U.S. history that a special class of Americans would be marked on their passports, a chilling event of its own, the law ignores the reality that the sex offender registry is another government “list,” such as no fly, that is relatively easy to get on and very hard to leave.

    Prosecutors have been seeking sex offender registration under child pornography charges against teens who sext, building registry cases against peeping toms, and overall unevenly applying state-by-state standards to something that now may have global impact.

    In at least ten states, you can earn sex offender designation from innocuous forms of indecency like streaking, mooning, or urinating in public. None of the registries provide any factual details of the offenses, just the names of the crimes, and sometimes not even that. So if a registry lists the offense of indecent exposure, for example, the passport people have no way of distinguishing a high school prankster who streaks a football game from a creep who heads off to a playground to flash children for sexual gratification.

    Many registries also contain numerous purely statutory offenders who are often also minors at the time of the offense, such as an 18-year-old who engages in consensual sexual activity with his 16-year-old girlfriend. In many jurisdictions, this would be labeled “sexual assault against a minor.”

    This has resulted in ever-growing lists of offenders. California has the largest list in the country with over one hundred thousand registered sex offenders.


    Everybody hates people who commit sex crimes, even more so those who commit them against children. But marking their passports represents nothing more than chilling use of government power that will accomplish nearly nothing at the loss of something greater.

    (example passport shown for illustration only)



    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Embassy/State, Post-Constitution America