Child Sex Offenders To Be Marked As Such On U.S. Passports
The U.S. government says it will make it harder for Americans convicted of child sex crimes to escape the consequences of such crimes, even when traveling overseas. It will now require all registered child sex offenders to use international passports identifying them as such when traveling outside the country.
The State Department announced this week it will begin revoking passports that belong to child sex offenders and replace them with passports with unique identifiers of the person’s status.
Child sex offenders with current passports will be required to apply for new documents while new applicants will receive passports that clearly marks them as child sex offenders which will be a notice printed inside the back cover of the passport book that reads: “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to (U.S. law).”
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The State Department announced on its website, travel.state.gov that it will no longer issue sex offenders with smaller travel documents known as passport cards because there is not enough room to fit the notice of a person’s offender status.
The U.S. State Department said the verbiage in the passports “will not prevent covered sex offenders from departing the U.S. nor would it affect the validity of their passports.”
The state department said the changes are in response to last year’s “International Megan’s Law,” which tries to end child exploitation and child sex tourism but civil libertarians are critical of the law citing its overly broad nature and its narrow focus on just one category of convicted felon.
The Megan law was created in honor of 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was murdered by a convicted child sex offender in New Jersey in 1994. The tragedy attracted nationwide attention and forced several states to create a sex offender registry.
Government agencies notified congress Wednesday on the new passport requirement that took effect right away.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security who have the power to add or remove someone from the child sex offender list must send the names to the State Department which issues the passports.
Affected passport holders can still travel overseas on their current passport until full revision has taken place and are formalized. Homeland security are not saying when the list will be provided.
Critics believe the passport requirements will limit the ability of those affected to freely travel abroad.
The U.S. State Department said the verbiage in the passports “will not prevent covered sex offenders from departing the U.S. nor would it affect the validity of their passports.” However, Americans, like nationalities of other nation, are subject to to immigration laws, requirements and rules of other nations they intend to visit and many countries prohibit or restrict visits from convicted felons.
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