H.R. 4573, International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking

H.R. 4573

International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking

Date
May 20, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4573, the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4573 was introduced on May 6, 2014 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and was referred to the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.  The bill was marked up by the Foreign Affairs Committee on May 9, 2014 and was ordered reported, as amended, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4573 formally recognizes “Operation Angel Watch”, an ongoing effort within the Department of Homeland Security’s Child Exploitation Investigations Center.  At present, Operation Angel Watch works to identify the international travel plans of registered child-sex offenders, to determine whether notification of such travel to destination countries is warranted.  H.R. 4573 codifies these activities within a newly-named “Angel Watch Center,” and streamlines the Center’s receipt of travel information.

H.R. 4573 requires the Department of Homeland Security to undertake reasonable efforts to notify child-sex offenders whose impending travel has been noticed to their country or countries of destination.  The Center also must make reasonable efforts to notify a child-sex offender if the Center believes its notice to a foreign country could pose a risk to the child-sex offender’s well being, or makes denial of the child-sex offender’s entry likely.

H.R. 4573 also urges the President to negotiate agreements with foreign governments on this issue, and to formally request that foreign governments notify the U.S. when a U.S. citizen has been arrested, convicted, sentenced, or completed a prison sentence for a child-sex offense in the foreign country.  The bill also encourages foreign governments to notify the U.S. when a known child-sex offender is seeking U.S. entry.

Background

An estimated 1.8 million children throughout the world are victims of child sex trafficking and pornography each year.[1]  Through the child sex tourism industry, individuals travel to foreign countries specifically to engage in sexual activity with children, subjecting them to exploitation and sex trafficking. [2]  “Sex tourists from the United States who target children form a significant percentage of child sex tourists in some of the most significant destination countries for child sex tourism.”[3]

In 1996, Congress adopted Megan’s Law to encourage states to identify the locations of sex offenders and provide a means to monitor their activities.[4]  Through subsequent passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Congress established a comprehensive national system for the registration and notification to the public and law enforcement officers of convicted sex offenders.  H.R. 4573 expands the protections in the foregoing federal laws by establishing a means to protect children in foreign countries from child-sex offenders traveling abroad.

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[1] H.R. 4573, Sec. 2(5).
[2] Id. at Sec. 2(6).
[3] Id. at Sec. 2(7).
[4] Id. at Sec. 2(3).

Cost

CBO confirms that the H.R. 4573 (which contains no funding authorization, and codifies and streamlines current activities by DHS) will have no direct spending or revenue effects, but CBO will be unable to complete a formal estimate prior to floor consideration.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107 or Jessica Kahan on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at 61126.