A lawsuit was filed today in the Central District of the U.S. District Court of California challenging regulations issued by the State Department that announced the addition of a “unique identifier” to the passports of some registrants. Addition of the identifier to passports could affect more than 500,000 Americans and their families.
“The State Department violated the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) when it failed to provide the public with an opportunity to comment upon its regulations,” stated ACSOL Executive Director and attorney Janice Bellucci. “As a result of the State Department’s significant violations, we are asking the Court to order the agency to begin again its regulatory process.”
According to the lawsuit, the State Department issued the regulations in September 2016 and October 2017. The agency declared the first regulation to be a “final rule” and did not request public comment before taking effect. The agency issued the second regulation in the form of a press release which was later posted on the agency’s website.
In its regulations, the State Department also declared that it will not issue passport cards to some registrants. According to the lawsuit, Congress did not provide the State Department with this authority, but instead required the State Department to add a unique identifier to passport cards issued to some registrants.
The plaintiffs in the case include the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, a national non-profit organization, as well as two registrants who reside in the Central District. One of the registrants has an existing passport without an identifier and is concerned that his passport could be revoked while he is traveling overseas. The second registrant does not yet have a passport and is afraid to apply for one because it would include a unique identifier.
“The possibility of having a unique identifier added to their passports has had a dramatic chilling effect upon hundreds of thousands of American citizens,” stated Bellucci. “Due to this concern, they are choosing either not to travel overseas or not to apply for a passport.”
The United States, in the past, has not added a unique identifier to the passport of any American citizen. The only countries known to have done this in the past are Germany and Russia.