Individuals who have been convicted of a sex offense against a child will now have that information included on the back inside cover of their passports. To implement this change, the State Department will revoke the passports of these individuals and reissue the passport with the conviction information.
Smaller passport cards, which can only be used for travel to certain countries, will no longer be issued to these individuals because the cards are too small to contain this language.
This change stems from 2016 legislation called “International Megan’s Law,” which concerns notifying the neighbors of sex offenders about their convictions. The intent of that legislation was to protect children and others from sexual abuse including sex trafficking and sex tourism.
The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws sued the government and argued that the new passport measure violated the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders. A federal court threw out this challenge, but the Alliance plans to sue again, focusing on the application of the rule.
Other critics have pointed out that the United States’ sex offense laws in general can be overbroad and are sometimes used against perpetrators who were minors themselves when the incidents occurred. They point to the fact that many teenagers will fall under this law for merely having sent a nude photo of themselves to a friend.
Speaking for the Alliance, Janice Bellucci warned that this is a slippery slope and that “Today, it’s people convicted of sex offenses involving minors, but, given the current political environment, perhaps next it will be Muslims…” She and other critics assert that this law is without precedent.