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Public Statements

International Megan's Law of 2010

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Nevada?

There was no objection.

Ms. BERKLEY. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in very strong support of this bill.

I would like to first commend the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the ranking member from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for their hard work and dedication to this bill, International Megan's Law of 2010.

Mr. Speaker, this is a product of a 2-year investigation into international child sex tourism and exploitation. Staffs on both sides of the aisle, including staff from the Judiciary Committee, have worked very hard to craft a bill that would serve as an important tool in protecting children abroad from child sex predators.

Some child sex offenders, who are really perverts, travel from the United States to other countries solely for the purpose of committing sexual acts with children. Others decide to stay abroad, taking advantage of their anonymity where laws against these sex acts are weak or are rarely enforced.

International Megan's Law would establish a system for providing advance notice to foreign countries when a convicted child sex offender travels to that country. It also mandates a registration requirement for child sex offenders from the United States who reside or stay abroad.

Worldwide, over 2 million children are sexually exploited each year through trafficking, prostitution, and child sex tourism. The damage inflicted on these children by sexual crimes can be incredibly severe and beyond comprehension to most of us. Not only are exploited children at risk of physical trauma and diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, but they suffer very serious psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage that can last for the remainder of their lives.

Between 2003 and 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cooperated with INTERPOL and foreign law enforcement agencies to investigate cases of the sexual exploitation of children abroad, obtaining 73 convictions for such crimes committed in other countries.

This bill will strengthen that enforcement capability and will discourage child sex tourism by requiring these offenders to notify relevant authorities of their intentions to travel abroad. It will also establish a nonpublic registry at U.S. consular and diplomatic missions where U.S. citizens and residents who live abroad and who have been convicted of sex offenses against minors will be required to register.

To know that an individual poses a danger to children and to do nothing simply because that person leaves our territory is unconscionable. We have the capability to help other governments protect their citizens, and we need to do all we can to prevent these predators from circumventing our laws to prey on children of foreign countries.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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