Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith


<span class="kicker">CNN Op-Ed by Smith</span>'Syrian refugee crisis: It's about compassion and security'


Chris Smith is U.S. representative from New Jersey, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairman of the House Global Human Rights Subcommittee, the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) On November 19, I voted for H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act of 2015, which requires that, in addition to the Department of Homeland Security screening, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducts background investigations on any aliens seeking U.S. refugee admission.

I took this position because I believe we must find a way forward in addressing the current Syrian refugee crisis that incorporates compassion and security. Both are justified.

Syria's crisis of refugees and internally displaced people has fueled the largest such emergency in Europe since World War II and involves seven countries in the Middle East. At least 250,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war, with the security forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responsible for many of them. However, ISIS and other extremist groups also have been responsible for killing Syrian civilians.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), up to 700,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea alone this year. More than half of them -- an estimated 53% -- are from Syria. Of those refugees and migrants, 20% are children, only 14% are women and the vast majority (65%) are men.

Violence plays a major role in the impetus of Syrians to leave their homes and flee their increasingly dangerous country, but Shelly Pitterman of the UNHCR said perhaps the main trigger for flight is the humanitarian funding shortfall. In recent months, the World Food Programme (WFP) cut its program by as much as 40%. The current Syrian Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for 2015 is only 41% funded. The UNHCR expects to receive just 47% of the funding it needs for Syria in the next year.

Secretary of State John Kerry said in September that the United States intends to resettle at least 85,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016, including 10,000 Syrians. Certainly, there is a grave humanitarian need for Syrians. My subcommittee has held numerous hearings attesting to the genocide -- and that is no exaggeration -- being faced by both Christians and Yazidis, a non-Islamic religious minority in the territory controlled by ISIS.

Thousands of people in both groups have been hounded by ISIS, and U.N. experts said this past August that 1,500 Christians and Yazidis have been forced into sexual slavery. People whose ancestors have lived in this region for millennia are being chased from their traditional homes and left to the mercy of an international community less and less able to meet their needs or even defend their lives in too many instances. Those leaving ISIS territory definitely have a good reason to flee.

However, we also must acknowledge the danger of infiltrators coming among the refugees. ISIS has announced its intention to attack the United States as it has France. Certainly, there have been failed or thwarted terrorist efforts here in our homeland since 9/11. Still, it only takes one successful attempt to cause the kind of tragedy that cost the lives of more than 3,000 people at the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon 14 years ago.

Aaron Brown, writing in London's Express newspaper on November 18, quoted an ISIS spokesman who said the group has smuggled more than 4,000 covert operatives into Western nations hidden among innocent refugees -- ready to engage in future attacks, especially in the European Union, which has been flooded with refugees from the Middle East due to conflicts there. While it's not possible to check this claim, we cannot dismiss the ambition of ISIS to take advantage of the refugees crisis.

Now the Obama administration is seeking to allow the United States to become home to thousands of new refugees after having taken in thousands of people from the region over the past few decades. Most of these people are law-abiding adherents to orthodox views of the Muslim religion, but we are seeing hundreds of young Muslims being radicalized and some attempting to go to the Middle East to join jihadist campaigns.

ISIS has distributed a guide on "How to Survive in the West" to those sent to the United States or those it has radicalized to teach them methods to launch an attack in the West. Given the fact that so-called "sleeper agents" may live inconspicuously for years, how can we detect those who may merely be waiting for an opportune moment to launch an attack?

FBI Director James Comey said in congressional testimony last month that there are gaps in the data that will prevent effective vetting of current refugees from the region -- even though the administration continues to tout its "robust" vetting process.

So as the result of neglect in preventing or ending the Syrian conflict several years ago and a lackluster effort to fulfill promises of humanitarian assistance since then, we face growing anxieties about a flood of people who desperately need our help, even as we must consider the security concerns that President Obama and his Cabinet members seem determined to ignore.

Simple solutions won't work, but an acceptable resolution that seriously considers both compassion and security is urgently required. A moratorium on refugee resettlement is justified until both concerns are in balance.

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<span class="kicker">Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed by Rep. Smith</span>'It's time to demand answers of Planned Parenthood'


Chris Smith is a U.S. congressman representing New Jersey's Fourth District -

In September, Pope Francis admonished a joint session of Congress to follow the Golden Rule, to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He said that the Golden Rule compels us to "protect and defend human life at every stage of development" and that "it is wrong to remain silent and look the other way."

The House has voted to form a select investigative panel to learn more about the brutal practices at Planned Parenthood that were exposed in undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

Establishing this select panel is the right thing to do. We simply can't remain silent or look the other way.

Congress needs to thoroughly investigate profoundly disturbing conduct by top-level Planned Parenthood officials. Caught on tape - and I have watched all the videos - Planned Parenthood's top leadership, not interns or lower-level employees, showed callous disregard for children's lives while gleefully calculating the financial gain derived from the sale of baby body parts.

We already know that every day Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons to death approximately 900 unborn babies. Since 1973, more than seven million children have been violently killed in Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now, because of the CMP videos, Planned Parenthood's involvement in trafficking in baby body parts has been revealed. In one clip, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Medical Services, says on camera:

"We have been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, and because we know that, I am not going to crush that part. I am going to basically crush below, I am going to crush above, and I am going to see if I can get it all intact. . . . I would say a lot of people want liver; and for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they will know where they are putting their forceps."

What Nucatola describes is a dismemberment abortion - arms, legs, torsos, decapitation - but the prized body part is preserved, pulled out intact, and then sold to brokers.

In another video, a top doctor at Planned Parenthood Federation, Mary Gatter, offers to use a "less crunchy technique" to get more intact organs and baby body parts.

"Less crunchy"? Like Nucatola, Gatter is nonchalantly talking about crunching - that is, crushing - babies to death in ways that are more likely to preserve body parts and intact organs.

The videos have again brought into sharp focus the fact that some babies actually survive abortion.

Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, confesses that "if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then they [the baby] are intact." A fetal-tissue broker describes watching how a "fetus . . . just fell out."

It just fell out. It - the baby - fell out, she says. And then what happened to that baby?

Tragically, we know what happens to these victimized babies - they are killed and some have their organs stolen.

It was just two years ago that the infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder for killing children who were born alive after attempted abortion. The grand jury report described his practices: "Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didn't call it that. He called it 'ensuring fetal demise.' The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping.' "

Gosnell's grisly after-birth abortion practices were exposed only when he was investigated for illegal drug charges and, in the words of the grand jury, "the search team discovered fetal remains haphazardly stored throughout the clinic - in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers. Some fetal remains were in a refrigerator, others were frozen."

We must not remain silent and look the other way. The dehumanizing practices revealed in these undercover videos must be investigated.

I suspect that if President Obama watched at least one of the videos, he would join us in demanding real answers and an immediate end to Planned Parenthood's inhumane behavior.

Or at least I hope he would.

Originally published in the Sunday Nov. 22, 2015 print edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer and online at:
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<span class="kicker"> article on Smith hearing with NJ parent, State Dept.</span>'N.J. Rep. Chris Smith demands U.S. enforce law to prevent child abductions'


The U.S. is not enforcing the provisions of legislation designed to force countries to return abducted children, according to the statute's author.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), said the U.S. is not imposing the sanctions required under the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, named after a Tinton Falls son and father.

The law requires the government to take a series of actions, including official protests, public condemnation, and the suspension of foreign aid, to countries that sign the Hague Abduction Convention and do not within 12 months return American children abducted by their non-custodial parent.


RELATED: Plainsboro woman still waiting for return of children abducted by her ex-husband (VIDEO)

At a hearing of Smith's House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations, the lawmaker said that countries have violated the law with impunity. 

"I am concerned that the State Department has chosen not to impose any sanctions on any of those nations found to have engaged in a pattern of noncompliance," Smith said.

David Goldman, who testified at the hearing, also called on the U.S. to act against foreign countries when necessary. Goldman, who spent five years trying to get his son, Sean, back after his then-wife took him to her native Brazil in 2005 when their child was 4. She divorced him overseas and then remarried. She died during childbirth and Goldman finally won custody in 2009 after a dozen trips to Brazil, sometimes with court orders in hand.

"Our government need not be so concerned about upsetting a country that harbors child abductors of American citizens' children," Goldman said. "We must demand their return. We're not asking for any favors. We're expecting the rule of law to be followed and if it isn't then let them see there are tangible consequences."

Michele Thoren Bond, the State Department's assistant secretary for consular affairs, said the law was "a priority for the U.S. government" and is regularly discussed in meetings with foreign officials.

"We are committed to fully and successfully implementing the law," Thoren Bond said. "The tools it contains reflect the constant balance diplomats seek in advancing the many interests of the United States around the world."

The good news, Smith said, was that international child abductions are down as the Goldman Act allows judges to put at-risk children on a no-fly list. An estimated 750 to 1,000 American children illegally are taken to foreign countries every year, but Smith that that number is on the downswing.

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<span class="kicker">Washington Times article on Smith int'l parental abductions hearing</span>'Tool to return abducted children from overseas underused, State Dept. told'


By Anjali Shastry - The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2015 -  

The Obama administration isn’t using a new tool Congress approved in 2014 to bring back children abducted and taken abroad by a parent, a prominent victims’ rights advocate told the House on Thursday, saying the State Department’s preference for “quiet diplomacy” falls short.

David Goldman, whose ex-wife took his son Sean to Brazil for more than five years, said the new law, dubbed the Goldman Act after his own plight, has real teeth: The State Department can impose sanctions on other countries it deems uncooperative in returning stolen children.

But the Obama administration has been slow to embrace the tool, he told the House Foreign Relations Committee.

“I beg, I plead, on behalf of all these other left-behind parents and families and grandmas and cousins and nieces and nephews and the communities they were ripped away from that we use the law to get these children home. It provides our government a number of options to persuade countries to return abducted American children,” Mr. Goldman said, his voice breaking. “One of the first rules of government is to protect our children and the Goldman Act does just that.”

Every year, between 750 and 1,000 American children are taken abroad by a parent, creating international custody disputes that are not easily solved.

Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, wrote the Goldman Act hoping to press the State Department to make a more forceful defense of U.S. parents’ rights. He said he found it “concerning” that the administration has not imposed sanctions on countries engaging in a “pattern of noncompliance” and listed Japan, Brazil and India.

The Goldman Act gives the State Department the power to give uncooperating countries a slap on the wrist, such as a closed-door meeting with foreign officials about the abduction or an official public statement detailing unresolved abduction cases. But they can also delay or cancel official U.S. state visits; withdraw, limit or suspend U.S. developmental or security aid; and formally request an extradition.

Rep. Mark Meadows, California Republican, said the department should delay or cancel “bilateral working relationships” with countries who have not recognized U.S. custody agreements.

Ambassador Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, insisted that “quiet diplomacy” can pay off when working with other countries, and said part of the problem was the way American judges handled Hague Abduction Convention cases. Such abduction cases go through the international body, but judges on U.S. soil often do not know how to deal with them.

“In the United States, every time there is a child abducted here, a package of information is sent to the judge who will hear the case,” she said. “But the typical family court judge may never hear a Hague Convention case, and if they do hear one, it may be the only one they ever hear.”

Mr. Goldman regained physical custody of Sean in 2009, but the committee also heard from parents whose children are still separated, including Navy Capt. Paul Toland Jr., whose daughter Erika was taken by her mother from a U.S. Navy base in Japan 12 years ago. The mother committed suicide in 2007, leaving Capt. Toland as Erika’s sole living parent — yet the 13-year-old remains with her grandmother in Japan.

“If a governor, senator or famous celebrity’s child were abducted overseas, you can bet our government would expend every resource possible to ensure the return of those children,” Capt. Toland said. “But the sad reality is that our children are simply not important enough for the American government to expend the political capital necessary to return them.”

Capt. Toland faces a unique problem, because Japan only signed the Hague agreement in early 2014, but it doesn’t apply to abductions before that. So far, the Japanese government has not pushed to return any of the more than 50 American abductees that live in the country.

The lack of governmental cooperation is not unique to Japan — Brazil has not returned a single parentally abducted child to the U.S. since Sean.

Some “left-behind parents” said Congress needs to pass even stiffer legislation than the Goldman Act.

Robert Makielski’s ex-wife took his two children, Gabriel and Isabel, to the Dominican Republic five years ago. He has gone to local judges in Culpeper, Virginia, and The Hague, and appealed to the State Department for help. He won full custody of his children after the divorce, but Gabriel and Isabel had already been taken, and he said the Goldman Act hasn’t helped because it’s left too much up the administration.

“The wording doesn’t mandate a timeframe, doesn’t set a timeline [to use sanctions],” Mr. Makielski said. “It doesn’t say to use the most extreme monetary sanctions, versus the least severe — a lot of things are discretionary here.”

This story can be online here:

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<span class="kicker">Star Ledger article on Smith meeting on coastal lakes</span>'N.J. coastal lakes to be part of federal flooding study'


New Jersey could be in line for federal funding to repair 12 of its coastal lakes in Monmouth and Ocean counties after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to include those bodies of water in a major study after Hurricane Sandy's devastation.

The inclusion of those lakes – as well as a harbor and a watershed – in the study was a major coup for the counties because the Army Corps rarely works on smaller bodies of water and exclusion from the Army Corps' study would have meant the towns around those lakes would be hard-pressed to get federal funding on their own.

RELATED: Scientists look at restoring lakes damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Announcing the new development in the corps' upcoming New Jersey Back Bays study, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith said this marks and important step toward helping coastal towns solve repetitive flooding problems that were exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

"Superstorm Sandy highlighted the significant health and safety hazards associated with storm damage to homes and public property," Smith said.  "We will continue to work to bring federal support to the table to make these coastal lakes and our communities safer."

In the wake of Sandy, the Army Corps is set to conduct a study of the state's bays to determine how to alleviate flooding. But the state's coastal lakes were not included in that study, which would have made it very difficult for towns around those bodies of water to secure federal funding for any repair work, Smith said.

While the study will include all of the state's coastal lakes, the most severe damage during Sandy was in Monmouth and Ocean counties where lakes connected to the Atlantic Ocean overflowed their banks because of Sandy's huge storm surge.

Some towns with coastal lakes were under water for up to a week after Sandy.

The study is part of a more comprehensive study called the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which helps towns understand and prepare for future flood risks.

The lakes to be included in the study are Wesley Lake, Fletcher Lake, Sylvan Lake, Silver Lake, Lake Como, Wreck Pond, Spring Lake, Stockton Lake, Lake Louise, Little Silver Lake, Lake of the Lillies, and Twilight Lake.

The other areas included are the Deal Lake watershed and Glimmer Glass Harbor.

Smith along with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection and local Assemblymen Sean Kean and David Rible held a meeting last week at the Monmouth County Sheriff's Southern Communication Center in Neptune.with representatives of the affected towns to make the announcement.

Since Sandy, state officials have cobbled storm aid funding together to get some lake projects started. They include the dredging of Deal Lake, which borders seven towns in Monmouth County. That work, officials said, is only a fraction of what needs to be done for the state's largest coastal lake.

And this summer, state officials announced funding for work on Wreck Pond, which borders five towns in Monmouth County, for dredging and replacement of its outfall pipe.

Lake Como, which caused major flooding in Belmar during Sandy, is also getting funding for construction of a discharge station.

MaryAnn Spoto may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnSpoto. Find on Facebook.
This article ran in the Nov. 19, 2015 print edition of the Star Ledger on page 18 and can be found online at:
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<span class="kicker">David Goldman, U.S. State Dept. Testify at Smith Hearing on Goldman Act</span>Smith Criticizes State Dept. for Failures in Implementing Goldman Act & Return Abducted American Children


The U.S. State Department’s deeply disappointing implementation of the new Goldman Act aimed at bringing home American children abducted and held overseas was the topic of a House hearing held by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), author of the law to put pressure on foreign countries to return American children.

I am concerned that the State Department has chosen not to impose any sanctions on any of those nations found to have engaged in a ‘pattern of noncompliance,’” Smith said. “The Goldman Act not only shines a light on a country’s record through the annual designation of countries showing a ‘pattern of non-compliance,’ it holds countries accountable and incentivizes systemic reform.  Actions escalate in severity, and range from official protests through diplomatic channels, to public condemnation, to extradition, to the suspension of development, security, or other foreign assistance.” Click here to read Smith’s statement.

Smith, who wrote “Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” (P.L. 113-150), chaired the hearing, which heard testimony from the law’s namesake David Goldman, as well as State Department Assistant Secretary Michele Bond, and left behind parent Navy Captain Paul Toland. Mr. Goldman also introduced the human rights panel to his son Sean, who attended the hearing with his step-brother. It took five years to reunite David and Sean who was abducted to Brazil. Smith traveled with David Goldman repeatedly to Brazil in 2009 to bring Sean Goldman, then 9, back to the U.S. He held numerous congressional hearings on Goldman’s and other Americans’ cases.

Between 2008 and 2014, nearly 9,000 children were reported as abducted to the State Department. Between 750-1,000 American children are abducted each year from the U.S. and held in foreign countries. Only 18 percent of open cases and 34 percent of resolved cases resulted in the return of the abducted child last year, yet the State Department still refuses to take serious action on behalf of American families. 

The Goldman Act was enacted in 2014, and provides new tools for the State Department to better assist parents and children separated by international abduction.  It also mandates an annual report to list countries demonstrating a “pattern of non-compliance” and a follow up report for actions the State Department took with non-cooperative countries to achieve results. 

“The Goldman Act was designed to raise the stakes on the foreign country’s inaction or obstruction, and move the country to end to the nightmare of abduction,” said Smith.

While the State Department has an array of options, it chose in 2014 to continue only with talk, and not to take any of the following steps prescribed by the Goldman Act, such as: 

  • delay or cancel one or more bilateral working, official, or state visits with any country;
  • withdraw, limit, or suspend U.S. development assistance with any country;
  • withdraw, limit, or suspend U.S. security assistance with any country;
  • withdraw, limit, or suspend foreign assistance to the central government of a country relating to economic support; or
  • make a formal request to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense.

Contrary to Sec. 103 of the Goldman Act, the State Department has also not pursued bilateral agreements for resolution of current cases in the top 10 countries with a high number of open current cases—such as Japan and India. 

“It is as though the State Department is refusing to learn from the past and is doggedly committed to a strategy that is demonstrably ineffective,” said Smith, referring to the pursuit of Hague Convention ratification without an agreement for the pre-Hague cases. “The actions report recounts in great detail the State Department’s myopic focus on persuading India to ratify the Hague Convention—a step that will not only exclude all the 75 current cases, but will marginalize them—as we have seen in Japan already.”

David Goldman, giving emotional testimony, told the House panel that, “The Goldman Act is designed to work on a country to country basis and may impose punitive measures against individual nations harboring abducted American children. Our government need not be so concerned about upsetting a country that harbors child abductors of American citizen children. We must demand their return. We’re not asking for any favors. We’re expecting the rule of law to be followed and if it isn’t then let them see there are tangible consequences.” Click here to read Goldman’s testimony.

Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond was peppered with question from Members of both parties pressing for action for left behind parents. Although Bond claimed the State Department is “committed to fully and successfully implementing the law,” and said “the tools it contains reflect the constant balance diplomats seek” she would not commit to using any of the Goldman Act’s tougher penalties, including sanctions, even in countries where ‘quiet diplomacy’ has not resulted in an increase in returns of U.S. children. Click here to read Asst. Secretary Bond’s statement.

Captain Toland, a left behind dad whose daughter Erika has been held in Japan for eight years and who is the Co-Founder and National Director Bring Abducted Children Home, also testified about his case.

“Yes, Akiko Futagi is a grandparent to Erika Toland. But this also means that she is NOT a parent.  Under the law in normal modern countries, she would have no right to keep my child away from me,” said Toland, Erika’s only living parent, who has not received so much as a photograph of his daughter or been permitted a phone call since her mother died in 2007 after abducting the child in 2004. “Signing the Hague was simply a smokescreen devised by Japan to relieve international pressure. The courts still have no mechanism of enforcement, the courts still drag cases out over many months to ‘run out the clock,’ and the judges simply work to find a way to maintain the status quo.  In my clear-cut and unambiguous case, I have endured three court dates over the course of eight months, with another court date set for December, and no end in sight.”  Click here to read Captain Toland’s testimony

Japan joined the Hague Convention at U.S. urging in April of 2014 without a separate bilateral agreement to cover the 67 long-pending abduction cases of American children. The Convention should provide a right of access to the children in these cases, but has not yet resulted in meaningful access. No American children have been returned by court order from Japan.  Despite these shortfalls in 2014, the State Department failed to name Japan as a country showing a “pattern of non-compliance” or take follow-up action in any of its Goldman Act reports to Congress. 

The State Department’s first report issued earlier this year on international child abductions was highly criticized as flawed, and was later partly amended. The Department promised to produce better annual reports in the future.  Smith has been critical of the State Department implementation, particularly of the report’s failure to name Japan, to a list of sanctionable worst offenders, as required by the Goldman Act.



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<span class="kicker">*** Hearing Set for Thurs. Nov 19***</span>State Dept. to Face House Panel on Efforts to Bring U.S. Children Home, New Goldman Act


The fight to bring home American children unlawfully held in foreign countries will be the heart of the testimony from “left-behind” parents who are victims of international child abduction at a congressional hearing Thursday. The U.S. State Department, under criticism for being slow to fully utilize the new “Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” (The Goldman Act, (Public Law 113-150), will also testify.


    Smith, chairman of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee and author of the Goldman Act said the law enacted in 2014 requires the Secretary of State to take action against countries refusing to cooperate in resolving the nearly 1,000 cases of American children victimized by international parental child abduction each year. It requires the Secretary first to report to Congress on which countries fail to cooperate on the resolution of U.S. abduction cases, and then to take action based on that report. The Secretary’s first report to Congress was released several months ago.


    Smith traveled repeatedly to Brazil in 2009 in order to bring Sean Goldman, then 9, back to the U.S. after a five-year abduction to Brazil. Most children never come back after an abduction, and many devastated parents never see or hear from them again.

         Congressional hearing entitled “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Ensuring Administration Action.”

           WHO:             Smith, members of the Subcommittee on global human rights, and witnesses: 

> Michele Thoren Bond, Assistant Secretary Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. State Dept.
> David Goldman, Co-Founder and Director of the Bring Sean Home Foundation (former left behind father of child abducted to brazil, returned after five years)
> Captain Paul Toland, (USN), Co-Founder and National Director Bring Abducted Children Home (left behind Dad whose daughter Erika is being held in Japan) 

         WHEN:          Thursday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. 

         WHERE:        Room 2172 in the Rayburn House Office Building (first floor).

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<span class="kicker">Goldman, State Dept. to Testify at Smith Hearing Thurs. Nov. 19 </span>Smith, Ex-Left-Behind Dad David Goldman Still Fighting to Return Abducted Children


Highlighting a case eerily similar to the five-year fight waged by David Goldman to bring his abducted American son, Sean, home from Brazil, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) today joined Goldman and Texas father Chris Brann pressing for the return of Brann’s son Nico, age 6, who was abducted to Brazil in 2013.

    “The parental child abduction of Nico Brann to Brazil is a particularly egregious act of abduction and wrongful retention,” said Smith who has called and will chair a hearing this Thursday on the State Department’s flawed implementation of the The Goldman Act, (Public Law 113-150, Smith’s new law to help reunited abducted children with the left behind parent.  “Dr. Chris Brann, the left behind father, is a textbook example of a parent having done all in his power to inhibit Nico’s abduction; unlike his ex, he followed the law in both countries and yet he is treated like a criminal and only allowed to see his son for a few hours and under the watch of two or three armed guards. The parallels with the Goldman case are astounding.” Click here to read Smith’s statement.

    “The State Department has censured Brazil nine times since 2003 for being in violation of its Hague Convention obligations. Could it be any more clear that ‘quiet diplomacy’ is not working?  Let’s use the Goldman Act tools,” said Goldman, advising Brann to hang on to hope that he and Nico will one day be reunited. “Never give up hope. Never give up on your God-given right to be with your son.  Never give up fighting. I hope our government does what it needs to do to solve your case.”

    Named for Sean and David Goldman and designed to assist others still separated by abduction, Smith’s law gives added weight to the State Departments “quiet diplomacy requests” for return and access. The actions required by the law escalate in severity, and range from official protests through diplomatic channels, to extradition, to the suspension of development, security, or other foreign assistance. Thursday’s hearing will examine the Department’s efforts under the new legislation and progress, and/or lack thereof, in the global fight to bring home abducted American children. 

    A strong focus will be on Brazil’s and Japan’s utter failure to return U.S. children home despite their signatory status under international law. At the hearing entitled “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Ensuring Administration Action,” the State Department is expected to defend how it has dealt with abduction cases in Japan, Brazil, India and other countries.

    The State Department’s first report issued earlier this year on international child abductions was highly criticized as flawed, and was later partly amended. The Department promised to produce better annual reports in the future. With nearly 1,000 American children abducted each year from the U.S. and held in foreign countries, the hearing will focus on the U.S. State Department’s stumbling implementation of the Goldman Act, a law that gives the State Department leverage in the return of abducted American children. Smith has been critical of the State Department implementation, particularly of the report’s failure to name Japan, a country with more than 50 long-term abductions, to a list of sanctionable worst offenders, as required by the Goldman Act.

    Along with David Goldman, others testifying at the Thursday hearing include: Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Michele Bond; and Navy Captain Paul Toland, a left behind Dad whose daughter Erika is being held in Japan and who is the Co-Founder and National Director Bring Abducted Children Home.


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<span class ="kicker">Article on Smith efforts to include coastal lakes in Army Corps study</span>'Flood-prone coastal lakes may get fix'


BY APP Staff Writers ERIK LARSEN and AMANDA OGLESBY - Since superstorm Sandy struck, Twilight Lake floods often.

The storm dumped sand into the lake when it pushed feet of water through this Bay Head neighborhood in 2012,  raising the already shallow lake bed. In the three years since, Twilight Lake has overflowed its banks during heavy rain and nor'easters.

“We have a low part of the town, and it floods constantly," said Bay Head Mayor Bill Curtis. “We need to ... keep the water in Twilight Lake instead of on people’s property.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., plans to help.

Twilight Lake is one of 14 flood-prone lakes and bodies of water in Ocean and Monmouth counties expected to be included in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study of New Jersey’s back bays, Smith announced Thursday.

In a letter to the heads of the Army corps' Philadelphia and New York districts, Smith wrote that the study should include the Deal Lake Watershed in Ocean Township; Wesley Lake in Neptune; Fletcher Lake in Neptune and Bradley Beach; Sylvan Lake in Bradley Beach and Avon; Silver Lake in Avon and Belmar; Spring Lake in its namesake borough; Lake Como in Belmar and the adjacent boroughs of Lake Como and Spring Lake; Wreck Pond in the boroughs of Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Sea Girt; and Little Silver Lake and the Lake of the Lillies, both in Point Pleasant Beach. 

“Though lakes like Sylvan Lake and Wreck Pond may not normally be tidally-connected, after Sandy all of the lakes and the ocean were one big body of water, so I know it is imperative to the coastal municipalities that the non-tidal lakes would be included in the study of how to help combat flooding, and that is why I pushed to have them included,” Smith wrote.

The New Jersey Back Bays study is the result of a larger, comprehensive, post-Sandy study called the North American Comprehensive Coastal Study, which Smith supported in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water in March 2013, according to a prepared statement from Jeff Sagnip, the congressman's spokesman.

“Superstorm Sandy highlighted the significant health and safety hazards associated with storm damage to homes and public property,” Smith wrote.  “We will continue to work to bring federal support to the table to make these coastal lakes and our communities safer.”

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Vincent Barrella said the three borough lakes included in the study — Lake Louise, Little Silver Lake and the Lake of the Lillies — can flood with little instigation from the weather.

"We have dredged and taken some steps on our own to alleviate that issue, but it is still a major issue, especially when you get the tidal surge coming in from high tide going into Lake Louise, and that spills over into Little Silver Lake," he said. "Any heavy rain events, it's a problem. If we can do something to alleviate that, that is fantastic."

In Bay Head, Twilight Lake's inclusion in the study might eventually bring relief to homeowners   who have also struggled with flooding for years.

"I'm very happy that he (Smith) is including it," said Curtis, the mayor.

In July, Smith announced that $3.58 million in federal Sandy aid would be added to $2 million previously awarded by the Fish and National Wildlife Services for Wreck Pond.  That funding is currently being used to construct a secondary outfall pipe and living shoreline along the pond, which will help protect residents and businesses in the area from future flooding, Sagnip said.

The above article was published on Page 3 of the Asbury Park Press on Nov. 16, 2015:

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<span class ="kicker">Obama Administration to Overlook Christians in Iraq?</span>Smith Statement on News Reports of Administration’s Plans to Exclude Christians from Genocide Designation


News reports that the Obama administration is considering excluding Christians from its  potential designation of ISIS genocide victims, and only including the Iraqi religious minority Yazidis, have left U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees global human rights issues, “shocked and dismayed.”

    “ISIS has also committed genocide against Christians,” Smith said. “They have been systematically targeted for murder, torture, rape, displacement – extermination – the President should acknowledge this. I am shocked and dismayed that President would even think to exclude the present day genocide of Christians.”

    Earlier this year, Pope Francis stated “Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged peacemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide – I insist on the word – is taking place, and it must end.”

     “Ignoring Christians, and the full range of religious and ethnic groups who have been victims of the ISIS genocide, would continue the President’s policy of silence and weak response,” Smith said. “When will the President actually implement his own Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities and National Security Strategy?”

    The “Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities” (Presidential Directive 10, August 4, 2011) states that “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.” The 2015 “National Security Strategy of the United States” states that “The mass killing of civilians is an affront to our common humanity and a threat to our common security...We have a strong interest in leading an international response to genocide and mass atrocities when they arise, recognizing options are more extensive and less costly when we act preventively before situations reach crisis proportions… we will continue to mobilize allies and partners to strengthen our collective efforts to prevent and respond to mass atrocities using all our instruments of national power.”

    Smith co-chaired a 2014 Congressional hearing on the “Genocidal Attacks against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in Syria and Iraq” and has been a long-time champion of preventing genocide, mass atrocities, and war crimes in many parts of the world and holding perpetrators accountable.

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Rep. Smith: Support H.Res.354

2015-11-03 21:50:40

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2015-11-03 21:44:45

Support H.Res.354 to Protect Jewish Communities in Europe

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Support the Adoptive Family Relief Act

2015-10-06 22:01:11

Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act

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Rep. Smith Remarks on Key Legislation for Veterans Programs

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"Abortion President" Obama So Extreme - Vows to Veto Legislation to Protect Children "Born Alive"

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'Mr. President: Have You Watched the Planned Parenthood Videos Yet?'

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Iranian Nuclear State “Inevitable” Under Flawed Weapons Deal

2015-09-17 19:46:18

Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization bill (HR 2820)

2015-09-08 21:54:38

Remembering and reflecting on the Srebrenica genocide

2015-07-08 21:44:42

Transparency and Full Relief Needed for Sandy Victims

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Ravi Parmar testifies about the Abduction of his Son to India

2015-06-12 20:23:10

Opening Statement from Hearing on International Parental Child Abduction

2015-06-11 21:50:07

Ensuring Fairness for All Employees at Joint Base MDL

2015-06-10 21:25:56

Rising in Support of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015

2015-05-19 17:17:19

Protect Pain Capable Unborn Children from the Violence of Abortion

2015-05-14 20:54:05

CSCE Chairman Smith Opening Statement: The Armenian Genocide & the Ongoing Quest for Justice.

2015-04-23 20:52:28

After Paris and Copenhagen: Responding to the Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism

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Congressman Smith to State Department: "Delay is Denial" Regarding Crisis in Ukraine

2015-03-04 20:10:21

Contact Information

2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3765
Fax 202-225-7768

Committee Assignments

Foreign Affairs

Elected in 1980, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville, N.J.) is currently in his 17th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves residents in the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Smith, 60, currently serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is chairman of its Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee. In 2011-2012 he chaired both the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also serves as “Special Representative” on Human Trafficking for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Veterans Committee (two terms) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Africa.

Smith has long chaired a number of bipartisan congressional caucuses (working groups) including the Pro-life (31 years), Autism (15 years), Alzheimer’s (13 years), Lyme Disease (nineyears), Spina Bifida (nine years), Human Trafficking (nine years), Refugees (nine years), and Combating Anti-Semitism caucuses, and serves on caucuses on Bosnia, Uganda and Vietnam.

According to the independent watchdog organization Govtrack, as of January 2014 Smith ranks fourth among all 435 Members of the House over the last two decades in the number of laws authored.

He is the author of America’s three landmark anti-human trafficking laws including The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, a comprehensive law designed to prevent modern-day slavery, protect victims, and enhance civil and criminal penalties against traffickers, as well as more than a dozen veterans health, education and homeless benefits laws, and laws to boost embassy security, promote democracy, religious freedom, and health care.

Smith is the author of the $265 million Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 which established a nationwide program for ethical research and treatment using umbilical cord blood and bone marrow cells. That landmark law was reauthorized in September 2010 for another five years.
In October 2011, Smith’s bill, HR 2005, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2011, was signed into law (Public Law PL112-32), a follow-up to his Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research, and Epidemiology Act (ASSURE) of 2000.

A lifelong New Jerseyan, Congressman Smith graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in business administration. Prior to being elected to Congress, he helped run a small business– his family’s wholesale sporting goods corporation. He is also the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee.

The congressman is married to his wife of 35 years, Marie, and they have four grown children.

Serving With

Frank LoBiondo


Tom MacArthur


Scott Garrett


Leonard Lance


Rodney Frelinghuysen


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