Victims Rights Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), recently introduced H.R. 5870, which will give the State Department the statutory authority to restrict or deny issuance of a passport to registered sex offenders. Federal statute already authorizes the State Department to deny issuance of a passport to individuals who have been convicted of international drug trafficking or who are behind in child support. This bipartisan legislation will give the State Department the authority to, at their discretion, bar the worst of the worst from endangering the safety of children overseas.

According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), each year about 10,000 sex offenders travel globally, many with the intent to engage in unlawful activities such as sex tourism or human trafficking. A million people a year become victims of human trafficking fifty percent of them are children.

Slavery is alive and unfortunately very well in this world today," said Rep. Poe. "We see it in the form of human trafficking, sex trafficking, and slavery of children that are taken from different parts of the world. They exploit these children for money and unfortunately it is a very lucrative business. This legislation aims to address this issue and safeguard our children.

In June of this year, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study revealed that the State Department issued thousands of passports to registered sex offenders in 2008. A sample of 30 case studies revealed that, at the time of criminal offense, many of these offenders held positions of public trust, such as a health care provider, school teacher, a NASA engineer and an owner of a HUD Section 8 property.

The bipartisan Victims Rights Caucus was formed in 2006 by Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) and Congressman Jim Costa (CA-20). Together they work to be a voice for victims rights in Congress.