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Public Statements

Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the chairman for the time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, authored by my good friend and colleague, Mr. Chris Smith of New Jersey.

Mr. Smith has been a stalwart supporter of the rights of children and for the left-behind parents, who all too often feel as though they have been abandoned by their government and have no place to turn.

According to our State Department, hundreds of parental transnational child abduction cases occur each year. In most of the cases, the left-behind parents here in the United States face a tremendous uphill battle with the foreign country's government to return their child. To make matters worse, they have no recourse, no legal basis to turn to, that would compel that foreign government to cooperate with them and return their abducted child to the United States. The effects that this has on both the child and the parents are significant and, in many cases, have unshakable, lifelong consequences.

Mr. Smith's bill gives hope where there previously was none. It represents a new approach to resolving this issue by giving our government and the President the avenues needed to press the countries that are found to be habitually noncooperative and noncompliant to work with the United States in order to resolve these cases. For some countries that refuse to cooperate, it is clear that words are not enough--they must be convinced by action to do the right thing--and this bill sends that very message, which is that the United States will not rest until we bring every wrongfully abducted American child home.

Too many parents have been separated from their children for far too long and with little to no recourse, and we must change that now, Mr. Speaker. I would like to urge that we also not overlook that, in many instances, a parent will flee with his child or children internationally in order to escape domestic violence.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

Mr. ROYCE. I yield the gentlelady an additional 30 seconds.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Speaker, too often, current U.S. law addressing international child abduction actually facilitates domestic violence and child abuse by forcing the return of a child despite a recognized risk to the child or parent.

It is my sincere hope that, with Mr. Smith's bill and my bill and with the further corrective measures to international child abduction laws that I plan to soon introduce that can help strengthen this measure, we will be able to resolve these issues so that the interests of all involved can be addressed and so that the children's rights can be protected.

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