U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today hailed the House passage of a bill that would help bring home American children abducted to overseas destinations and wrongfully held. Rep. Pascrell co-sponsored the legislation, H.R. 3212, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, which would address the plight of American children and desperate left behind parents who are victims of international child abduction to countries like Japan, Egypt and Brazil.
"Today's passage of this critical legislation will bring us one step closer to reuniting families that were wrongfully torn apart while preventing abductions from happening in the first place," said Rep. Pascrell. "The human rights crisis we are witnessing in countries like Japan is unjustly keeping thousands of parents like Sgt. Elias from seeing their children. My hope is this bill will help hold the Japanese government accountable for their years of empty promises to Sgt. Elias and his family. Our State Department must be on the frontlines for people like Sgt. Elias, who have literally put their life on the line for this country. I'll continue to fight for full compliance by the Japanese government to ensure Sgt. Elias is reunited with his children."
Last year, Rep. Pascrell met with Iraqi War veteran Marine Sgt. Mike Elias, a Rutherford, NJ resident caught in a bitter international custody dispute. Sgt. Elias children, Jade Elias, born in 2006, and Michael Elias, born in 2007, were abducted in 2008 upon his return from Iraq by their mother who obtained illegal travel documents from Japanese consulates in the United States in violation of U.S. court orders restricting travel. Sgt. Elias has not seen his children in over four years and has since been battling with the Japanese government to resolve the custody dispute.
More than 1,000 children are abducted out of the country every year, and less than half are returned within a year, and many never return. According to the U.S. Department of State, between the years 2008 and 2012, bereaved, left behind parents like Sgt. Elias reported over 4,800 abduction cases involving more than 7,000 children.