WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution that designates April 2019 as “Countering International Parental Child Abduction” month and instructs the federal government to educate state and local law enforcement about the issue and how to combat it.
According to the Department of State, from 2008 to 2015 more than 9,000 American children were taken abroad by a parent to obstruct their (usually) former spouse from seeing their child. International child abduction has devastating long-term impacts on both the children and their left-behind parents. Research shows that an abducted child is at risk of significant short- and long-term problems, including anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and aggressive behavior. Their left-behind parents face similar struggles.
The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“Every year hundreds of American-citizen children across the nation are abducted abroad in order to obstruct their left-behind parent’s custody rights,” said Senator Tillis. “The federal government has tools to prevent the abduction and secure the return of our citizen-children but has consistently failed to use them. I hope this resolution demonstrates to the executive branch that the Senate is serious about ending international parental child abduction and that we will hold their feet to the fire until every single American child is returned home.”
“It’s hard to imagine a more devastating situation for parents than their children being abducted and taken to a foreign country,” said Senator Feinstein.“Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than one would expect and it’s incredibly difficult for parents to get their children back. Our resolution raises awareness of this important issue.”
“The U.S. Senate stands with the parents enduring one of the most difficult experiences imaginable – fighting for the return of an abducted child. I’ve had the joyous opportunity to help reunite Kentuckians separated by international parental abduction, and I will continue to work with my colleagues, the administration, and stakeholders so we can make more of these successful outcomes possible,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Abducting a child and taking them abroad is dangerous and has life-long consequences on both the child, and the left-behind parent,” said Crapo.“Working to ensure the safety and well-being of children is critical and our government must use its resources to prevent international parental child abduction, while at the same time, work to bring back to the United States those children who have been abducted.”
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the danger and tragedy of child abduction,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan resolution is an important reminder for all of us to work together with families in the fight to bring these children home.”
“International parental abduction cases are tragic and leaves a parent heartbroken and uncertain of ever seeing their child again,” Rubio said. “It is critical that we make these American children, who have been abducted to a foreign country by one parent, a priority and that the U.S. uses all tools available to ensure their safe return.”
“Few Americans know what international parental child abduction is, which is precisely why we need to pass this resolution and raise awareness among law enforcement, child welfare officials, and the general public,” said Sen. Menendez. “When someone takes their child to a foreign country for the explicit purpose of denying another parent their lawful right as a mother or father, it is ultimately the child who suffers most. I strongly support this bipartisan resolution which makes clear that the United States can and must do better to protect the welfare of children hurt by the trauma of international parental abduction.”
Earlier this month, Senators Tillis and Feinstein sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo urging him to make more relentless and effective efforts to bring abducted American children back home to the United States by using all of the tools and resources at the State Department’s disposal.
Read the resolution here.