U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ-4th) , lead author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, published an op-ed piece in the Feb. 7 edition of the Washington Post on H.R. 515, the “International Megan’s Law.” H.R. 515 would develop a comprehensive notification system among U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies concerning international travel of those people required to be on government sex-offender registries. The bill, currently awaiting President Obama’s signature, aims to identify sex offenders who travel among countries as such on their legal documentation, such as U.S. passports. Detractors say the bill would hamper the ability of U.S. citizens to travel; however, Smith asserts, the bill merely adds sex-offender identification on their documentation. Smith notes that U.S. law already denies passports to delinquent taxpayers, deadbeat parents and drug smugglers.
A 2010 GAO report found at least 4,500 U.S. passports were issued to registered sex offenders in fiscal 2009 alone, Smith writes. “(Megan’s Law) registries have survived legal challenges (in the U.S.) because of the compelling interest to protect children,” Smith writes. “Notably, the same arguments that failed to shut down sex-offender registries are now being employed against the International Megan’s Law. They were poor arguments then, and they are poor arguments now.”