A new piece of federal legislation (HR 5150), if passed and signed into law, would expand the reach of the International Megan’s Law (IML). The new legislation was introduced by the original author of the IML, Rep. Chris Smith (Republican, NJ), as well as Rep. Karen Bass (Democrat, CA).
The provisions of the legislation regarding the IML are a very small part of the 92-page bill which claims to be aimed at preventing and protecting victims of trafficking. The IML provisions would expand the scope of the IML by extending it to U.S. citizens who reside overseas.
“As currently written, the IML requirement to add a unique identifier to the passport of an individual convicted of a sex offense involving a minor (under 18) does not apply to most individuals who live outside the United States,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Section 201 of HR 5150 would change that by adding the unique identifier to the passports of individuals who have moved or otherwise reside outside the United States.”
The unique identifier is a statement added to a passport stating that the individual has been convicted of a sex offense involving a minor. The statement does not include specific information such as the age of the victim or when the conviction took place. It has been reported that some registrants whose passports include a unique identifier have been denied entry into a country.
“We must oppose Section 201 of HR 5150,” stated Bellucci. “Registrants, family members and supports should contact the member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents the district in which they live in order to oppose that section of the bill.”
HR 5150 also includes a provision that requires the U.S. government to obtain twice a year information from “each country participating in the visa waiver program” a list of individuals in that country who have been convicted of a sex offense and/or required to register as a sex offender. The U.S. government may, but is not required to, share similar information with those countries.