The growing threat of the Zika virus will be the central focus of testimony by leading U.S. authorities at a hearing to be held by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s global health subcommittee, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04).
Smith scheduled the congressional hearing, entitled “The Global Zika Epidemic: Emerging in the Americas” for Wedsnesday, Feb. 10. He has held other global health hearings on the threat of diseases such as smallpox, polio, Ebola and other diseases.
Who: Smith, chair of the Africa and global health subcommittee, other House Members, and:
Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, M.D., Assistant Administrator at Bureau for Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development
What: Congressional briefing and hearing of House Global Health Subcommittee
When: Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 1:15 p.m.
Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
A newly released bipartisan Senate investigative report which found that the Obama Administration not only failed to protect thousands of children from Central America who flooded over the southern border of the United States but actually also helped deliver them into the hands of human traffickers who exploited them, caused “grave concern” to U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Jeff Duncan (SC-03), the chairmen of the Foreign Affairs subcommittees that oversee Human Rights and Western Hemisphere affairs.
According to the report a review of the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement concluded that “HHS’s policies and procedures are inadequate to protect children in the agency’s care.” Citing instances in 2014 where children were turned over to traffickers, the Senate said that the vetting process for verifying the relationship between children and adults was “unreliable and vulnerable to abuse.”
The report cited a case where traffickers collected children to work on a chicken farm in Marion, Ohio, pointing out that the HHS failed to detect that traffickers “were collecting multiple, unrelated children,” which in itself is a “warning sign of a potential trafficking ring” which went unheeded by HHS. Click here to read a Washington Post article on the investigation.
According to Chairman Smith, who is the author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act, “The report shows an utter disregard for the welfare of children by the Department of Health and Human Services, and a serious lapse in oversight by senior administration officials, including HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.
“This appears to be criminal incompetence, reminiscent of the Obama Administration’s mishandling of the scandal at Veterans Administration hospitals, the running of guns to Mexican drug cartels in ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ in a program overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the failure to provide adequate security for U.S. embassy personnel by Hillary Clinton’s State Department as evidenced by the terrorist attack on Benghazi,” according to Smith.
Chairman Duncan said, “I applaud our Senate colleagues for their recent report on HHS’s policies in providing temporary housing for Central American minors. However, I am appalled at the results of this investigation, which found gross incompetence and negligence on the part of HHS in exposing children to an ‘unacceptable risk of trafficking and other forms of abuse at the hands of their government-approved sponsors,’ resulting in at least one case of children being placed with human traffickers and subjected to essentially modern day slavery at egg farms in Ohio.”
“It is utterly unthinkable that HHS would place these children into homes without rudimentary efforts to run background checks, visit child sponsors’ homes, and track cases,” Duncan said. “In addition, by allowing non-relatives with criminal histories to sponsor children, individuals without adequate income to sponsor children, and individuals illegally in the country to sponsor children, HHS’ policies have opened the door to incredible amounts of fraud, illegal activity, and potential unspeakable horrors for these children. Once again, a lack of seriousness is shown on the part of the Obama Administration to take real steps in addressing illegal immigration in our country. The President has refused to enforce the law, his Administration – HHS in this case – has been utterly irresponsible and has acted in such a way that is completely unacceptable. Such egregious errors by HHS deserve a swift response – those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.”
Both Smith and Duncan demanded HHS accountability.
“Children have been exploited in the most cruel way, and HHS failed in its duty to protect them,” Smith said.
Statement from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on the enrollment of International Megan's Law:
"Megan was just seven years old when it happened. She was brutally assaulted and murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street. This deplorable act was the catalyst for the Megan’s Law movement, a series of laws enacted at the state and federal levels that keep the public informed of sex offenders in their neighborhood.
"This week, Congress expanded Megan’s Law to a global level, with the passage of International Megan’s Law. Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), H.R. 515 gives the Department of Homeland Security the resources and tools it needs to protect children all over the world from child trafficking and sex offenders through enhanced tracking and notification programs. International Megan’s law has already passed the Senate, and now it goes to the president’s desk.
"Today, we honor Megan’s memory—and the victims of all deplorable sex and trafficking crimes—and renew our commitment in the fight to protect our children from these evil actors."Speaker Ryan's statement is posted online at:
The problem of “gendercide”—the deliberate extermination of a girl child simply because she happens to be a girl—was the topic of a hearing chaired today by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). At the hearing, Smith said that the “global crisis of Asia’s missing girls is not only a tragedy of lost potential but also a demographic time bomb, particularly in China, with social, political, and potentially even security implications.”
Demography experts estimate that 160 million females are missing from Asia’s population, more than the entire female population of the United States. And gender imbalance—which is mainly the result of sex selective abortion—is a major problem in China. The cultural preference for boys, exacerbated by China’s draconian birth-limitation policies, has led to millions of girls being aborted and killed over the past several decades. As a result, China faces some of the world’s most severe gender imbalances—according to official estimates, there are currently 34 million more males than females in China.
“The global crisis of missing girls constitutes a gross human rights abuse—which is aptly described as gendercide—the extermination of the girl child in society simply because she happens to be a girl. Gendercide is not only a predictable tragedy of lost potential, but also a demographic time bomb, particularly in China, with social, political, and potentially even security implications,”said Smith. “China faces some of the world’s most severe gender imbalances—according to official estimates, there are currently 34 million more males than females in China.
“As the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000—America’s landmark law to combat sex and labor trafficking—I am deeply concerned that China has become the human sex trafficking magnet of the world. We have seen a marked increase of women trafficked from neighboring Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia being trafficked into China as brides and for sexual exploitation. North Korean women who escape into China also remain at risk for human trafficking for forced marriages and forced labor. China’s gender imbalances are significantly exacerbated by government policy—particularly its draconian population control policies.” Click here to read Cong. Smith’s opening remarks.
The hearing, entitled “Gendercide: China’s Missing Girls,” was held in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), which Congressman Smith chairs with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
The hearing included expert witnesses including Chai Ling, the Founder of All Girls Allowed and a former leader of the Tiananmen Square student demonstrations; Mara Hvistendahl, journalist and author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men; and Julie Ford Brenning, the Director of Research & China Outreach for the organization, Give Her Life. The witnesses offered both analysis of the problem and recommendations to combat this problem as well as lessons learned from other countries which have struggled with gender imbalances either as a result of cultural preference or government policy.
In her testimony Chai Ling said, “China’s population problem is not too many babies are being born, but too few babies being born, especially too few baby girls are being born. There is a severe cost for low birth rate… All the facts and data point to the clear conclusion that the brutal and unwise ‘Two Children Policy’ needs to come to an end and be replaced by an all children allowed policy as soon as possible, for the sake of China, the people, the Chinese government and the country…Gendercide is the largest injustice on earth today. We also urge the U.S. leaders, Congressional leaders, President Obama, business, education, women’s rights and faith community leaders, presidential hopefuls and all to help us end this evil.”
Said Hvistendahl in her testimony, “We have historical amnesia. Western institutions played a critical role in bring sex selection to Asia. And yet, I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve read that blame sex selection squarely on traditional values. As a major international issue, affecting South Asia and Eastern Europe as well as China, sex selection demands an international response. Moreover, as the entity responsible for the population control policies that contribute to the preponderance of boys being born, the Chinese government cannot be expected to solve its sex-ratio problem without international pressure.”
Said Brenning in her testimony, “We all know that the consequences of the skewed sex ratio are well documented. It is now vital to address the policy implications and how to implement successful government initiatives that will get to the roots of the sex ratio imbalance. It is only by recognizing the importance of the empowerment of women, as an end in itself and as a key to improving the quality of life for everyone – both men and women - that China will achieve a more long-lasting and effective means of achieving balanced sex ratio.”
The bipartisan CECC released its 2015 Annual Report which shows that Chinese provincial governments continued to coercively enforce birth restrictions and monitor family size in the past year. The report also showed that population control policies created a sex ratio imbalance resulting in the birth of significantly more males, millions of whom will be unable to find wives. The severe imbalance drives regional human trafficking throughout Asia for the purposes of forced marriage and sexual exploitation. The CECC Annual Report can be found at www.cecc.gov.
The CECC consists of nine bipartisan Senators, nine bipartisan Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President. The Annual Report was approved unanimously by all of the CECC’s members.
MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press -
Registered sex offenders who have committed crimes against children will have a harder time traveling internationally under legislation Congress has sent to the president's desk.
The House passed the legislation by voice vote Monday after Senate passage in December. If signed by the president, the U.S. would let other countries know when a registered sex offender is traveling abroad. The United States would work with countries to receive information about sex offenders traveling here.
The State Department would also develop a way for U.S. passports to identify that a person is a sex offender.
Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey sponsored the legislation and has been pushing for it for eight years. It expands on a law that requires public notification of sex offenders in the United States.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.Read More
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) first introduced the International Megan's Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking in 2008. The measure passed the House last year. The Senate followed suit with some changes, requiring the House to vote a second time.
The bill, which passed by voice vote, now goes to President Obama. It was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old from Hamilton who was sexually assaulted and killed in 1994 by convicted sex offender who lived across the street.
Her death led to the original Megan's Law passed by the New Jersey legislature to require public notice when a sex offender moved into a neighborhood.
The latest bill would expand that notification internationally.
A 2010 Government Accountability Office report said that at least 4,500 U.S. passports went to registered sex offenders in fiscal year 2008. In addition, it seeks to have the U.S. informed when convicted sex offenders from overseas travel to this country.
"It is imperative — and long overdue — that the United States take the child protection lessons it has learned domestically with the successful notification systems first created by Megan's Laws and expand them globally to prevent convicted U.S. sex offenders from harming children abroad," Smith said. "Child predators thrive on secrecy that allows them to commit — with impunity — heinous crimes against children."
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) praised Smith's "perseverance" in pushing for the bill.
"We want law enforcement to consider this a new tool," Royce said. "It will combat the appalling industry of child sex tourism."
This article was originally printed on Page 1 of the Feb. 2 edition of Times of Trenton and can be found at:
By Trentonian Staff Writer Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman -
American pedophiles will have a harder time raping children overseas.
After eight years of political legwork, the International Megan’s Law bill that was sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) has finally cleared both chambers of Congress effective Monday and will soon arrive on President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
The International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, also known as H.R. 515, is inspired by the domestic Megan’s Laws across the 50 states that require public notification of convicted sex offenders living in the community.
The international version authorizes U.S. authorities to notify other countries when a high-risk American child molester travels abroad. The international version also is intended to encourage other countries to notify the United States when foreign sex offenders seek to travel to America.
Megan’s Law and Smith’s international version are named after Megan Kanka, a Hamilton 7-year-old who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1994 by a notorious sex offender, Jesse Timmendequas, who lived across the street, unbeknownst to residents in the neighborhood.
Before the International Megan’s Law bill passed Congress without any opposition, Smith on Monday afternoon gave a U.S House floor speech praising the “the extraordinary work by Megan’s courageous parents — Maureen and Richard Kanka” for them inspiring every U.S. state and territory to enact Megan’s Law.
“Because of this law, parents, guardians, school officials, sport coaches, law enforcement and the public at large are now empowered with the critical information they need to mitigate harm to children,” Smith said in his floor speech about the benefits of Megan’s Law.
In terms of his push for an international Megan’s Law, “We know from law enforcement and media documentation that Americans on U.S. sex offender registries are caught sexually abusing children in Asia, Central and South America, Europe — everywhere,” Smith said on the House floor.
Congressman Smith, who has represented the Central Jersey area since 1981, has been a longtime champion of human rights, having pioneered the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 to clamp down on what he refers to as “modern-day slavery” — that is, children forced into prostitution.
This article was originally published at:
Smith (NJ-04), author of International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, H.R. 515, announced that the House unanimously approved HR 515 today. “It will now be sent on to the White House to provide children at home and abroad with new protections against predators,” Smith said.
The legislation is named for Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old from Hamilton, N.J. in Smith’s district who was sexually assaulted and killed in 1994. Megan’s assailant was a convicted, repeat sex offender living across the street, unbeknownst to residents in the neighborhood. Due to public outcry in response to the tragedy and to hard work by Megan’s loving parents, Richard and Maureen Kanka, the New Jersey State Legislature passed the original Megan’s Law (NJSA 2C: 7-1 through 7-II) in 1994 to require public notification of convicted sex offenders living in the community. Today all 50 states and all the territories have a Megan's Law, an important tool in preventing more children from becoming victims.
“While they still carry deep emotional and psychological scars, Maureen and Richard’s selflessness, love of others, and vision have protected countless children from harm,” Smith said. “Enactment of International Megan’s Law will expand meaningful child protection at home and around the world.” Click here to read Smith's floor remarks.
Passed by the House for the third time in early 2015, H.R. 515 establishes new tools and a framework for the U.S. to send and receive notifications on traveling sex offenders who have previously been convicted of serious sexual crimes against children. Additions to the bill in the Senate required the House to pass it one last time.
“It is imperative—and long overdue—that the United States take the child protection lessons it has learned domestically with the successful notification systems first created by Megan’s Laws and expand them globally to prevent convicted U.S. sex offenders from harming children abroad,” said Smith, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who first introduced the bill in 2008. “It is the same horror story over and over. Child predators thrive on secrecy that allows them to commit—with impunity—heinous crimes against children. International Megan’s Law will ensure that potential predators are on the radar of U.S. and foreign law enforcement.
“It has taken many years to get the bill passed,” Smith said. “We received input from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the State Department, and colleagues in the Senate and House, painstakingly producing a carefully-crafted and well-designed law.”
“The Angel Watch Center will be authorized to send actionable information about child-sex offender travel to destination countries in time for those countries to assess the potential dangers—and respond appropriately, whether that is to deny entry or visa, monitor travel, or limit travel. Information is power, and in this case, a new level of protection,” said Smith.
Smith first introduced the International Megan’s Law bill alongside the Kankas in 2008, and has worked for passage ever since. The bill passed the House in 2010 and 2014, but was stalled in the Senate both times. The version that moved out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October was done in close partnership with Senator Richard Shelby (AL), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker (TN) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (MD), and; Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD). Smith also acknowledged the strong support of Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA), who helped advance the final bill in the House, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel.
Specifically, Smith’s legislation will:
Authorize and expand the Angel Watch Center, an office within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and authorize it to notify destination countries of intended travel by registered sex offenders;
Coordinate the work of the Angel Watch Center with the Sex Offender Targeting Center of the US Marshals Service so that the best information is getting to the right people in the shortest amount of time;
Make it a crime, for the first time, for a sex offender to travel abroad without giving 21 days advance notice so that law enforcement has adequate time to vet the traveler and warn the destination country, if needed;
Mandate that the State Department, in consultation with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, establish, within 90 days, a program for issuing a passport provision on a traveling sex offender with an offense against a child and current duty to register, thereby preventing circumvention of the notification system by travelers who misreport which countries they will visit;
Collect notification response data to understand which countries are working with the U.S. on preventing re-offense by child predators;
Provide the authority for both the Angel Watch Center and the US Marshals Service to receive information from other countries about pedophiles intending to travel to the U.S.;
Clarify the receipt and sharing within U.S. law enforcement of incoming notifications on known sex offenders traveling to the U.S.; and
Direct the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security, to seek agreements and use technical assistance with other countries so that the United States is notified in advance of incoming foreign sex offenders.
Smith said, “International Megan’s law facilitates information sharing so that other countries notify American law enforcement officials of foreign predators coming into the United States. The goal is reciprocal notification to protect children at home and abroad from known sex offenders.”
The new International Megan’s Law will work in conjunction with America’s landmark anti-human trafficking law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 authored by Smith, and the two other trafficking laws he wrote in wrote in 2003 and 2005.
According to a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office entitled “Current Situation Results in Thousands of Passports Issued to Registered Sex Offenders,” at least 4,500 U.S. passports were issued to registered sex offenders in fiscal year 2008. Typically a U.S. passport is valid for 10 years. The GAO emphasized that its numbers were probably understated due to the limitations of the data that it was able to access and analyze.
Estimates from the International Labor Organization indicate that 1.8 million children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation around the world every year.
“There is no question that New Jersey has been shortchanged by HUD over the last three years, and this latest decision has setback our recovery effort once again,” said Smith, Dean of the NJ Delegation. “Despite our concerns with the NDRC, which we expressed at the outset, the administration moved forward, diverting funds away despite significant unmet needs of our state—including housing, infrastructure, and economic recovery.”
In addition to Smith, the letter was signed by Representatives Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), Scott Garrett (NJ-05), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), and Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11).
In part, the letter reads: “In the best interest of serving our constituents in New Jersey, each of us have serious questions regarding this decision, the process by which it was made and the serious implications it raises for our state and New Jersey families, both those impacted by Superstorm Sandy and those potentially impacted by future storms.”
“While we believe that all areas across the country should be prepared and ready in the event of severe weather, our initial concerns have been validated—hundreds of millions of dollars specifically designated for the Sandy response and recovery are now going toward projects that will not assist victims still desperate for support from the hard hit East Coast states and to areas not impacted by Superstorm Sandy,” the letter continued.
HUD set aside nearly $1 billion for the NDRC from its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) Program, which was funded with the passage of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (Public Law 113-2) to assist the victims of Superstorm Sandy. In 2014, Smith led a delegation meeting with then-Secretary Shaun Donovan and urged against diverting Sandy funds to a national resiliency competition with so many victims still out of their homes.
The bipartisan legislation also expresses support for the upcoming 2016 National Catholic Schools Week; applauds the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their selection of a theme that all can celebrate; and praises the efforts of the millions of parents, students, teachers, and administrators involved in making Catholic schools a continued success.
“Catholic schools play a critical and complementary role in America’s education system—ensuring children receive a quality education in a faith-based setting,” said Smith, a graduate of New Jersey Catholic grammar and high schools. “Through this resolution we hope to highlight and further encourage the efforts that make Catholic schools places that successfully promote academic advancement and prepare students for responsible citizenship.”
National Catholic Schools Week is a tradition, first established in 1974, and celebrated annually ever since. This year, the week of January 31 to February 6, 2016, has been designated as National Catholic Schools Week. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.”
Catholic schools are recognized for academic excellence and provide students with a platform for success. The average graduation rate for Catholic secondary schools is 99 percent, with 87 percent of graduates attending four-year colleges.
The resolution states in part: “Catholic schools are committed to community service, producing graduates who hold ‘helping others’ as one of their core values.”
“In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus urged believers to live a life of selfless service to others and specifically asks that we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the sick and disabled, visit the prisoner and welcome the stranger,” Smith said. “It is in this spirit that Catholic schools instruct students and impart a commitment to serving those in need in our communities.
“Parents and students know when selecting a Catholic school that they are enrolling in an institution which invests in the academic and spiritual development, as well as the character of the individual,” he said.
Read the text of the legislation here.
2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
We need to update anti-human trafficking laws & prohibit the administration from handing out favors to nations based on other agendas (1/2)
Retweeted by RepChrisSmith