The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill (HR 515) on February 1 that would require, for the first time in the history of the United States, the addition of “unique identifiers” to the passports of American citizens.

“This historic vote was taken by voice vote and without discussion or debate regarding its historic significance,” stated CA RSOL President Janice Bellucci.  “The process used for this historic vote – suspension of the rules – is an abuse of Congressional rules because it is limited to noncontroversial bills, not bills like HR 515.”

A different version of the bill was originally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on January 26, 2015.  The U.S. Senate added the historic passport requirement to the bill on the Senate floor on December 17, 2015.  That amendment, made by Senator Mitch McConnell was not discussed or debated on the floor of the Senate or in committee.

“The citizens of this nation should be afraid, very afraid, that a unique identifier will soon be added to their passports,” stated Bellucci.  “The next targeted group could be Muslims, gays or drunk drivers.”

As passed by Congress, the Secretary of State is required to add a “unique identifier” to the passports of citizens convicted of a sex offense involving a minor.  The list of offenses includes non-violent, non-contact offenses such as some acts of indecent exposure.

“Passports today are used as a primary form of identification not only to enter a foreign country,” stated Bellucci.  “A passport symbol that identifies an individual as a registered sex offender places that person and others with them at significant risk of physical harm.”

In addition, HR 515 establishes a Center that would notify foreign countries that an individual who was convicted of a sex offense involving a minor plans to visit.  This notification will be sent regardless of whether the individual has been deemed to be rehabilitated by a state and therefore is no longer required to register as a sex offender.

“The notification provisions of HR 515 will harm thousands of Americans who have been declared by a state to be rehabilitated and are no longer required to register as sex offenders,” stated Bellucci.  “The federal government in such cases will substitute its judgment, which will not be based upon an investigation of an individual, for the judgment of a state government that has conducted such an investigation.”

Before it becomes law, HR 515 must be approved by the President. Citizens for Criminal Justice and its members lobbied in opposition to passage of HR 515.

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