Saturday, August 3, 2013

Action Alert Federal Bill: Congressman Chris Smith attaches an International Megan’s Bill Amendment to HR2848 - Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014

 
Attention Everyone! 

New Jersey’s Congressman Chris Smith is at it again! He wants to restrict/revoke the passports of Registered Sex Offenders. 

First there was 2008’s HR5722. Then there was 2009’s HR1623. To be followed by 2010’s HR5138. And then again in 2011 there was  HR3253 plus TWO “Trafficking” Bills with passport restrictions for RSO’s HR2830  AND HR3589. 

Still pending for 2013 is his HR898-Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 also with a Registered Sex Offender passport restrict/revoke mandate. 

Then there have been other sponsors of travel and/or passport restrictions for Registered Sex Offenders. 

Like Congressman Ted Poe’s 2010 bill HR5870. Blatantly titled; To restrict passports of certain sex offenders, and for other purposes. 

2010 and 2011 were busy years for these types of bills because of a GAO Report that was released. 

They have all so far failed to be voted on in the House or in the Senate. 

Now, Congressman Smith has submitted an amendment to HR2848- Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014. This amendment is to Megan’s Law, it grants the Secretary of State discretion to limit the valid duration of passports for convicted sex offenders listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, or to revoke the passport of an individual convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in a foreign country of a sex offense. The amendment was unanimously approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on August 1st 2013. 

This amendment is way too broad. Allowing open discretion to the Secretary of State’s Office to revoke passports will most likely turn into a blanket-ban against ALL registered offenders.  

 
Only offenders who have been convicted of Trafficking Humans or of International Sexual Crimes should be evaluated and considered for passport and travel restrictions internationally. And that should be on a case-by-case basis, not a one-size-fits-all mandate.

If this amendment stays as is in HR2848 it will most likely be broaden over time to include everyone (all RSO’s).  

I do think that by inserting his long-time International Megan’s Law as an amendment into HR2848 it will pass and could very likely become Federal law. I also believe that if this becomes law the cost of checking everyone’s passports will be an issue and they will pass it on to the RSO as a fee. The Secretary of States Office might even determine special passports should be created for RSO’s, they might expire sooner, they could cost more and everyone who is handed the document would immediately know the owner is an RSO, a “scarlet letter of travel”. If you’re traveling with your own children you or your family could be hassled or scrutinized because everyone knows you’re an RSO. 

This Smith amendment could snowball into a huge cost, inconvenience and barrier for RSO’s who travel for work, family, school or vacation. It’s unnecessary, its prejudice and it has to be stopped! 

I ask that you please contact your one U.S. Congress Representative and both of our U.S. Senators who could require the amendment be removed or significantly edited to only apply to those convicted of Human Trafficking or International Sex Crimes immediately!  The representatives may be on their August break but their offices are still open and listening to the concerns of their constituents. We need to make sure they hear from all of us now so HR2848 does not proceed to the House floor for a vote as-is. 

Even if you or your loved one don’t plan on traveling internationally, don’t take the attitude of it doesn’t affect me so why should I care. Any restriction imposed across the board to RSO’s especially laws restricting movement affect us all and we need to speak up. 

Please take the time to email, call, write or fax your Federal Representatives. 

Thank you. 

Mary 

Megan’s Law amendment restricting passports approved by House Foreign Affairs Committee
By Megan Goldschmidt    August 2, 2013