At least one Congressman is on record against International Megan’s Law, which passed Congress on February 1 and was signed into law by President Obama a week later.
While he seems to support parts of the law that call for the government to notify destination countries of a registrant’s travel plans, Rep. Bobby Scott made a well-reasoned argument against the provision requiring sex offender passports be stamped with a “unique identifier.”
First, it is simply bad policy to single out one category of offenses for this type of treatment. We do not subject those who murder, who defraud the government or our fellow citizens of millions and billions, or who commit acts of terrorism to these restrictions.
Second, by treating all sexual offenders as one monolithic group ignores reality. While some pose a continued and real risk of reoffending and may be traveling to engage in sex tourism or other illicit acts, not all pose the same risk. Indeed, the failure of this provision to allow for the individualized consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the traveler’s criminal history, including how much time has elapsed since his last offense, underscores how this provision is overbroad. Details such as whether the traveler is a serial child rapist versus someone with a decades-old conviction from when he was 19-years-old and his girlfriend was 14, just missing the Romeo and Juliet exception by one year, are significant and would allow law enforcement to more appropriately prioritize their finite resources.
Third, a traveler does not have any recourse with the foreign destination country if he or she is refused entry solely on the basis of this “unique passport identifier.” While the bill has some due process provisions, those apply only domestically. There is no recourse if a traveler is erroneously denied entry from the destination country.
Fourth, if the “unique passport identifier” is implemented in a way that makes it obvious to not only law enforcement officials but any member of the general public viewing the passport, this could lead to unintended consequences of persecution and harm to the traveler. This is especially troubling given that no factual context about the offense is provided.
If our goal is to ensure that domestic and foreign law enforcement and customs officials are notified of potential threats, multiple existing provisions of the bill already achieve that goal without raising these problematic implementation and fairness concerns.
A lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court in San Francisco seeking to block implementation of International Megan’s Law.
Nebraskans Unafraid is committed to making our communities safer by ensuring that lawmakers and policymakers do not support laws that cause homelessness, joblessness and damage to families.
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