Friday, June 6, 2014

Action Alert Federal Bill HR4573: International Megan’s Law

First a quick summary of HR4573 's movement and amendments patroned/sponsored by New Jersey Representative Chris Smith.  

  1. May 6, 2014 - Submitted and titled, To protect children from exploitation, especially sex trafficking in tourism, by providing advance notice of intended travel
  2. May 9, 2014 - “marked up” by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and ordered to be Reported in the Nature of a Substitute (Amended) by Unanimous Consent.
  3. Unknown date – Re-titled to International Megan's Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.
  4. May 20, 2014 – News article announces Virginia Congressman and Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office along with other Republican Representatives built an anti-Human Trafficking website promoting 5 completely different bills all claimed under the Human Trafficking umbrella including the Bring Back Our Girls Nigerian Africa campaign against Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, ensuring the successful passage of all 5 bills.
  5. May 20, 2014 – per
    1. Ordered to be Reported in the Nature of a Substitute (Amended) by Unanimous Consent.
    2. 5:33pm
·        Mr. Royce moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended.
·        Considered under suspension of the rules.
·        DEBATE - The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 4573.
    1. 5:57pm
·        On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. 

  1. The substitute/amended text of HR4573 that was passed out of Committee on May 9th and debated and passed by the entire House on May 20 was still NOT posted on-line to review.
  2. Only on (not on on May 21, the amended version of HR4573 was available to read.
One of the two objections I had had been removed:
Sec. 5.Authority to restrict passports

  1. Number of Co-Sponsors/Patrons for HR4573 for has grown to 20.
  2. HR4573 has now been sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee
The Secretary of Homeland Security would still establish within the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security a Center, to be known as the Angel Watch Center. The U.S would notify other countries of all Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) who are traveling to their country. And all countries would notify the U.S. of all foreign Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) who are traveling to the U.S. 

What RSO’s would be included? 
Per HR4573: 

Sec. 3. Definitions
4) Child-sex offense
(A) In general
The term child-sex offense for this proposal means a specified offense against a minor as defined in paragraph (7) of section 111 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (42 U.S.C. 16911), including—
(i) an offense (unless committed by a parent or guardian) involving kidnapping;
(ii) an offense (unless committed by a parent or guardian) involving false imprisonment;
(iii) solicitation to engage in sexual conduct;
(iv) use in a sexual performance;
(v) solicitation to practice prostitution;
(vi) video voyeurism as described in section 1801 of title 18, United States Code;
(vii) possession, production, or distribution of child pornography;
(viii) criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, or the use of the Internet to facilitate or attempt such conduct; and
(ix) any conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor. 

Do we have ANY idea how many of the almost 800,000 RSO’s in the U.S. that includes? 

25%?  50%? It could be 75% of the current total. But we don’t know. And this total number increases by 45,000 – 70,000 every year in the U.S. 

I am asking all of you to send an email or make a phone call to your two Virginia Senators (see contact info below) and if you are feeling especially industrious to every member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee (see contact info below) 

Here is a template for those of you who are unsure of what to say or what to ask for: 

Dear Virginia U.S. Senators Warner and Kaine,  or U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Members,

I am contacting you today about my concerns with HR4573 aka International Megan's Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking. 

As currently written any Registered Sex Offender in America (including a minor) convicted of a sex crime with a minor is included in HR4573. 

HR4573 will capture the 18, 19 and 20 year old boyfriends and girlfriends who had consensual sexual contact with their 15, 16 and 17 year old partner and were convicted for violating the states criminal code. It will also capture the 15, 16 and 17 year olds who “sext” images of themselves to others and it will capture whoever received those images even if they did not solicit them. 

Attempting to apply this list of “criminal offenses” through Federal legislation upon 50 States and multiple jurisdictions that have their own criminal codes that may or may not require registration for the list of crimes or it may be a misdemeanor instead of a felony make no sense. 

The Federal Adam Walsh Act compliance deadline was 3 years ago and only 17 out of 50 states have met Congress’ requirements (or demands of the Act) because each State writes its own criminal codes and manages its own Sex Offender Registry. There is no consistency among the 50 states but HR4573 assumes there is. 

Do you know that in Virginia for example, the Virginia State Police (the monitor and manager of the 20,500+ RSO’s) can not/will not advise offenders of their legal responsibilities to travel state-to-state or the process to travel internationally? RSO's have no idea what they are required by Federal law to do or by State law (in the other 49 States) to comply ahead of time or during their travels when they leave Virginia. They could be inadvertently committing a felony but no one will assist them or advise them because that’s how the system has been intentionally implemented, an inevitable trap with countless unknown hoops and hurdles and ignorance of the law is no defense for an unintentional violations. 

If an RSO needs to travel for work, school, family emergencies or vacation they may know 21 days in advance or they may not. What type of additional burden, delay or loss of money will this proposed Angel Watch Center with country notification place on these Americans? How many will be turned back at the airport upon arrival? Unable to attend the conference that they are expected at, denied the chance to attend the funeral of their parents or children or refused to enjoy the first vacation they’ve been able to afford in more than 15 years? 

HR4573 is being claimed to reduce/eliminate the International Sexual Trafficking of Minors but in reality it will waste millions of dollars of Government resources. 

HR4573 completely ignores the last 20 years of data of who is sexually abusing children in the U.S. and abroad.
·        National recidivism rate for all registered sex offenders committing a new sexual offense within 3 years is 2.5-5.3%*the 2nd lowest of all crimes.
·        90% (9 out of 10) sexual assaults are perpetrated by a family member or acquaintance of the victim, neither by a stranger nor by someone on a registry.
*Bureau of Justice Services

The inclusion of ALL offenders convicted of a sex crime against a minor in HR4573 is political posturing and fear-mongering to keep America’s parents deceived about where the real dangers lie. Among family, friends, teachers, coaches and mentors who are not listed on the Sex Offender registries. 

The U.S. needs to stop wasting millions of dollars establishing Committees, Commissions, Units, Departments, Task Forces and Ad Campaigns for these one-size-fits-all proposals that are NOT based on facts. 

HR4573 continues to perpetuate the inaccurate boogeyman concept that does nothing to protect America’s children but instead promotes the statistically anomalous dangers. 

HR4573 needs to be amended before it moves out of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. 

HR4573 should only apply to those convicted of:
1.       Prostitution of a Minor
2.      Human Trafficking
3.      Transporting a Minor across States-lines
4.      Traveling to meet a Minor that they met on-line
5.      Sex Crimes Against Children Abroad/Internationally  

These are the people who might travel abroad to sexually abuse children, not every Registered Sex Offender in America. 

Smarter policies that are directed towards those who have been convicted of a Human Trafficking crime or traveling for sex with a minor are what Americans deserve. 


I hope you will take 10-30 minutes out of your day to send an email or make a phone call about this bill. 

Thank you  

Mary Devoy

Virginia U.S Senator and former Virginia Governor      Mark Warner- D            202-224-2023

Virginia U.S Senator and former Virginia Governor     Tim Kaine- D                   202-224-4024                                                                          

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