Tarrant County ordered to stop issuing passports

Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 12:27 pm | Updated: 1:00 pm, Wed Jul 8, 2015.
Associated Press |

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The U.S. State Department has ordered Tarrant County to stop issuing passports while the federal agency investigates some unspecified issues, the county administer said.

Federal authorities did not immediately say why the county must suspend the issuance of passports, though certain post offices in the Fort Worth area were still allowed to provide them. It's unclear how long the investigation will last. County officials say they were told that it could take three or four weeks.

County Administrator G.K. Maenius said Tuesday that the district clerk's office hadn't been able to accept applications since it was notified of the investigation on June 25. He said the county offered to do whatever it could to aid the investigation.

"We immediately obeyed the request from the state department and reached out and contacted them the next day to assist them in expediting their inquiry," Maenius told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We don't know what the violation is of, if there was a violation."

The clerk's office has processed about 33,000 applications this year. It has been handling passport applications since 1999.

Last year, Tarrant County processed around 35,000 passport applications.

"We're in a holding pattern waiting for them to get back to us," District Clerk Thomas Wilder told KXAS-TV. "We hope the issue will be resolved in the near future."

A spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs declined to comment to the television station.