Three executive branch agencies — the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Justice — have reported to Congress their plans to implement the International Megan’s Law (IML). The 17-page report also includes a request for an additional $9.3 million in funding each year to implement that law.
According to the report, the Angel Watch Center (AWC) will provide written determinations to the Department of State regarding whether an individual is a “covered sex offender”. After that determination is made, the State Department will add an individual’s name to its existing name check system, the Consular Lookout and Support System.
Also according to the report, the State Department will add a “unique identifier” to the endorsement page of a covered individual’s passport. The shape and size of the “unique identifier” has not yet been determined, however, the State Department expects to make that decision no later than December 31, 2016. In preparation for the addition of “unique identifiers”, the State Department is making “technological modifications” to its passport issuance system. After making its decisions, the State Department will send “guidance” regarding the internet identifiers to its overseas consular posts as well as to domestic passport agencies.
The Department of Homeland Security will assume additional duties as it implements the IML, including establishment of a “mechanism” to receive complaints from registrants affected by notifications to destination countries. The report states that Operation Angel Watch, the precursor to the Angel Watch Center, began in Los Angeles in 2007 and was focused upon “known child sex offenders” traveling to Southeast Asian countries. The operation moved to Washington, D.C., in 2010 and expanded its focus worldwide.
According to the report, the purpose of the IML’s Angel Watch Center is to reduce the risk of child sex tourism. The individuals being monitored by the Center are “those convicted of child sexual abuse or child pornography offenses who may travel overseas and sexually abuse or exploit minors”. The Center made more than 2,100 notifications to more than 95 countries in fiscal year 2015. More than half of these notifications resulted from input received from four states — Colorado, Florida, Texas and Washington.
The Angel Watch Center expects to increase to 5,000 annually its notifications to foreign nations in the future due to increased state notifications which are required by the IML. Due to this expected increase, the Center will request funding for four additional employees, known as Angel Watch international liaisons, to work in Mexico, the Caribbean, Manila and Bogota (to cover South America).
The National Sex Offender Targeting Center, which is part of the United States Marshalls Service, will increase its activities as well due to the IML. Part of the activities include developing initiatives with law enforcement partners to mitigate the risk of U.S. citizen sex offenders “who are living abroad undetected.”