With their offices flooded by emergency requests for passports from Utah residents, the entire Utah delegation sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken raising concerns about passport processing delays and asking his department to open a passport office in Salt Lake City.

“We have reached the point where our offices are struggling to handle all incoming emergency requests due to the sheer volume of requests we are receiving,” says the letter, which was signed by Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, and Reps. Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens and Blake Moore, all Republicans.

The processing of passports has ground to a “near halt,” the letter says, affecting resident’s plans.

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One step they asked Blinken to take to address the problem: open a passport agency in Salt Lake City.

The lawmakers said their request is in line with legislation that says the Secretary of State should “review the geographic diversity of passport agencies to identify areas of the country with both high demand and no in-person access.” The legislation, authored by Romney, was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023.

“Salt Lake County meets the criteria in the legislation, and we implore you to prioritize resources and investment to meet the consular needs of citizens within and near this region,” the letter says.

The closest passport offices to Utah are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Aurora, Colorado.

Utah residents are waiting for hours on phone calls to passport offices, only to have their calls dropped, the letter says. The delegation also said constituents have received incorrect information and that their requests for in-person appointments have been ignored.

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The State Department has recognized the problem, and is taking “positive steps,” the letter says, “but more must be done.”

“These disruptions to our passport system are no longer special occurrences or tied to unique or emergency situations; the passport system is currently failing to keep up with normal demand for spring and summer travel plans,” the letter says.

Residents’ frustrations have led to case workers in their offices being overloaded by complaints, the lawmakers said.

The State Department should prioritize giving residents of the Western Mountain region getter access to in-person passport services, the letter said.