Tarrant County must take certain unspecified steps before it can resume processing passports, the State Department said on Thursday.
Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder has called a news conference for Friday regarding the passport issue. He declined to say if the county’s six passport offices would be closed.
“I had some discussions with my employees earlier [Thursday] but I'm not going to say anything else until the morning,” Wilder said.
County Commissioner Andy Nguyen also declined to say “open or closed” directly, but said: “The Dallas Passport Agency presented a path for Tarrant County to reopen the offices, but Mr. Wilder felt that he could not meet those restrictions and operate the passport offices effectively.”
Tarrant County has not been able to process passport applications since June 24, when it received a stop order from the State Department.
35,000 passport applications processed by Tarrant County last year
“The Department has completed its review of Tarrant County Passport Acceptance Facilities,” a State Department spokesperson said late Thursday. “The Department of State notified the County on September 3 of the necessary actions that must take place in order for them to resume accepting passport applications.”
The State Department has declined to say whether any violations were committed by the district clerk's office, which oversees the processing of passports.
The State Department hopes to have at least two Tarrant County passport offices open within the next month.
The spokesperson said the agency would work closely with Tarrant County to guarantee its passport acceptance procedures are in place. The spokesperson said the State Department hopes to have at least two county passport offices back in business in the next month.
Tarrant County processed about 35,000 passport applications last year and had already processed about 33,000 this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. While the county has not been processing applications, local post offices have continued to do so and some increased their hours.
Passports are still available at post offices throughout Tarrant County and North Texas. The Dallas County district clerk's office can also take passport applications.
The county had six passport offices and was trying to open a new passport facility in at the new Northeast Tarrant County Courthouse in Hurst.