NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A closure affecting passport offices in Collin County stretched into its fourth week Monday.
District Clerk Lynne Finley told CBS11 she was working to reopen offices, but still had no response from the Dallas Passport Agency she said ordered the suspension back on December 21.
The suspension is similar to one that affected passport offices in Tarrant County in 2015. That closure dragged on for months.
“Sounds very similar,” said Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder. “You can’t get information and they just arbitrarily shut you down and you can’t tell your constituents what’s going on.”
Finley told CBS11 last week the offices closed after county officials began working with the Diplomatic Security Service related to a five-year-old ongoing criminal investigation.
Finley said DSS had notified her office in writing that Collin County had no involvement in criminal activity, but that Dallas Passport Agency was not responding to calls or emails about opening again.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs, which is part of the U.S. State Department, said it was not able to respond to questions about the situation, because of the federal government shutdown.
It was years of friction with the Dallas Passport Office that led Wilder to close passport offices in Tarrant County three years ago. At the time, he called the investigation into the operation “an attack on the integrity of our office.”
Tarrant County has since reopened four passport offices, now run by the county clerk’s office.
A steady stream of travelers looking to apply for or renew their passport found office doors locked at the county building in Plano. Finley said the offices process as many as 40,000 applications a year.
A sign on the door offered no explanation for the closure, but directed travelers to the U.S. Post Office for their needs. After a quick check on their phone, some applicants found the hours there to be far fewer, and less convenient, which is why they had looked to county offices initially.
“It’s fairly important,” said Seth Krolnik, who is planning to travel for a possible job out of the country. “I mean, it’s still a little bit out for the deadline but it comes fast, especially with how long it takes for these things to process.”