H.R. 515, International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking

H.R. 515

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

Date
January 26, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, January 26, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 515, the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 515 was introduced on January 22, 2015 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and referred to the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Bill Summary

H.R. 515 is substantively identical to H.R. 4573, the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, which passed on May 20, 2014 by voice vote.[1]

H.R. 515 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. 515 codifies these activities within a newly-named “Angel Watch Center,” and streamlines the Center’s receipt of travel information.

H.R. 515 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. 515 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.

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[1] Congressional Record – May 20, 2014, at H4534.

Background

An estimated 1.8 million children throughout the world are victims of child sex trafficking and pornography each year.[2]  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.[3]  “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.”[4]

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.[5]  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. 515 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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[2] H.R. 4573, Sec. 2(5).
[3] Id. at Sec. 2(6).
[4] Id. at Sec. 2(7).
[5] Id. at Sec. 2(3).

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is currently unavailable.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.