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Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers for advancing this bill through the Judiciary Committee. And, I'd like to offer my appreciation and thanks to my friend Congressman Steve Chabot for introducing the Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program Act.

This is a very innovative and timely program, utilizing telephone and cellular alerts to help in the rapid recovery of missing children, elderly individuals, and the disabled. The bill specifically includes within the definition of disabled those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. As we know cellular phones are ubiquitous and expanding the use of that technology in missing persons programs promises to greatly increase the programs' effectiveness.

As a co-chairman of congressional caucuses for both Alzheimer's disease and autism, I am familiar with the widespread occurrence and the dangers of wandering for these populations. Sixty percent of the millions of Alzheimer's sufferers wander at some point in their illness, many are habitual wanderers. Most of us are also well aware of the skyrocketing rates of autism, and again wandering is a serious concern.

But this bill will assist Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement in their efforts to help so many other individuals including victims of family abduction and victims of abduction for sexual exploitation. As the author of the first federal law to combat human trafficking, I am grateful that Mr. Chabot's legislation specifically provides for grants to combat human trafficking. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that touches every country in the world, including the United States. Victims, primarily women and children are stripped of their dignity, robbed of their human rights, and forced into bondage and sexual servitude.

This legislation increases the likelihood that the disabled wanderer will be found and reunited safely with his or her loved ones. It will help runaways to be reunited with their families or at least to be provided a safe environment. And it will make it much more difficult for family abductors and human traffickers to avoid detection and to rescue their victims.

I thank Mr. Chabot, and I encourage all of my colleagues to vote for this legislation.

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