Friday, February 3, 2012

Peter Thomas Senese & The CARE Foundation Supports GAO Recommendation to Create Departure Screening List for High-Risk U.S. Citizens Considered High-Risk Child Abductors

Peter Thomas Senese & The CARE Foundation Supports GAO Recommendation to Create Departure Screening List for High-Risk U.S. Citizens Considered High-Risk Child Abductors

Washington, D.C (PRWEB) February 03, 2012

Peter Thomas Senese and The I CARE Foundation is urging Washington policymakers to implement the recommendations contained in a recent GAO landmark report titled 'Program Aimed at High-Risk Parent Abductors Could Aid in Preventing Abductions' that calls for a no-fly screening list for American citizens considered high-risk child abductors similar to the existing 'Prevent Departure Program' that exists for non-U.S. citizens.

A response from Jim Crumpacker of the Departmental GAO/OIG Liaison Office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contained in the GAO report titled 'Program Aimed at High-Risk Parent Abductors Could Aid in Preventing Abductions' concurs with the GAO recommendation to create a secondary security screening list in order to stop American child-citizens from being illegally abducted abroad; Specifically, "DHS strongly agrees that preventing international child abduction is a very important issue. The Department also agrees that expanding its current efforts along these lines to include pre-departure flight screening for potential U.S. citizen abductors could be helped in preventing some abductions."

The recommendations by the GAO and DHS of the grave necessity for a security screening program in the face of the rapid expansion of the criminal international child abduction of American child-citizens originating from the United States offers keen insight for the courts of local jurisdiction who are responsible in issuing orders and remedies that will protect a child from abduction.

Peter Thomas Senese, the author of the critically acclaimed novel on international child abduction that is educating others about the severity on international child abduction and is titled 'Chasing The Cyclone' commented, "The recommendation from the GAO, agreed by both the DHS and the DOS, sends an important message to local courts involved with a child's welfare when they consider the potential for a child's international abduction that there is a real and growing problem of American child-citizens who are either criminally abducted from the United States or illegally detained in a foreign country after travel orders are granted. The local courts charged with oversight of a child must take note that the United States federal government is directly saying that existing state and federal government programs and policies created to prevent abduction are not enough to prevent child abduction, and serious loopholes exist that allow for children to be stolen and taken abroad - where too many defenseless children are never recovered. It is my hope that the convergence of multiple government agencies cited in the GAO report, each declaring that IPCA is a real problem, will cause local courts to realize their need to act prudently and with keen insight on all the local and international issues involving a potential child abduction. This recommended policy is exactly what the child abduction prevention community has been calling for."

According to the new report, government and non-government stakeholders agree that the creation of a security program similar to the existing 'Prevent Departure Program' (established in 2003) which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and utilized by the Department of State's Office Of Children's Issues may significantly reduce the growing number of cross-border parental child abductions each year. According to Peter Thomas Senese, "Prevent Departure Program' allows for precautionary security checks to occur, whereas a legal or illegal alien resident living in the United States and who is considered to be a potential parental child abductor is prohibited from traveling abroad with their child due to court orders prohibiting the child from international travel. Additionally, in order for an individual to be placed on the Prevent Departure Program, either a court or law enforcement must determine that a potential international child abduction threat is a possibility. Once this occurs, it is up to the Department of State to request to the Department of Homeland Security that a person be placed on the non-departure list."

I CARE Foundation advisory board member Gloria Nyberg added, "Presently, one of the troubling ways that a parent of dual nationality living in the United States is able to illegally remove a child from the country is if they and their child travel by air on either a valid United States passport, or, if they travel on a secondary passport issued by their country of origin, which, in most cases, the child would have automatic rights of citizenship to. In both scenarios, a program such as the Prevent Departure Program would not be able to prevent abduction from occurring because the individual is a U.S. citizen and as such is not eligible for inclusion in the Prevent Departure Program. In addition, international abduction by either land or sea would have similar challenges."

According to Joel S. Walter, a New York City based attorney who focuses on federal court and family law matters including international child custody, "Without a security screening process for parents possessing American citizenship that are considered high-risk abduction threats, prevention of these types of cases will remain extremely difficult. There is no question in my mind that children who face potential international abduction need the United States government to establish additional policy or program that will protect them such as the secondary screening program recommended by the Government Accountability Office."

Patricia M. Lee, a senior mentor for the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network" and I CARE director based out of St. Petersburg and Orlando, Florida added, "I believe that the recommendations by the GAO are appropriate, timely and much needed. For example, without the creation of a secondary screening departure list established to prevent would-be abductors who possesses a United States passport and/or a secondary passport issued from another country, there are limited remedies available that could realistically prevent a child from being wrongfully taken abroad. What is needed is exactly what the GAO and the DHS are recommending: a preventive program that focuses on the point of departure that ensures that children who are not permitted to leave the country with a particular parent due to potential child abduction are unable to do so. This type of program would be of great benefit to at risk parents seeking to prevent child abduction by a dual national and/or American citizen parent. In our ever shrinking world, this is a very real threat that is not currently being addressed."

The GAO report further adds, "DHS officials told us that their Prevent Departure list - which requires a custody or court order specifically banning the child in question from traveling internationally with a specified parent or someone acting on behalf of the parent - is quite effective at preventing abductions involving non-U.S. citizen abductors. DOS officials added that a similar list for U.S. citizens would be very effective in cases where there was already a custody or court order preventing the child from traveling abroad with the specified parent."

The I CARE Foundation, which is actively recruiting lawyers to join the DOS "Hague Convention Attorney Network" is urging policymakers to implement the GAO recommendation. I CARE director Peter Thomas Senese, who is donating 100% of his author proceeds earned from 'Chasing The Cyclone' to the I CARE Foundation commented, "It is clear that a no-fly screening list would create much-needed safeguards against abduction. With an estimated number of U.S. child-citizens who will be abducted to potentially pass 100,000 over the next decade, we must implement safeguards like the GAO recommendation."