President Obama signs Goldman Act into law

Late last night, President Obama signed into law the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (P.L. 113-150).

At this time, all of us at BSHF extend our deepest gratitude to Congressman Chris Smith, Senator Robert Menendez and their wonderful teams. We would have never reached this milestone without their tremendous efforts and ongoing dedication to this cause.

 

PICTURED: David Goldman, Congressman Chris Smith, and Sean Goldman.


 

Two Smith Bills Signed into Law on Same Day

Smith: Different issues, but both stem from parents’ love for their children

By Jeff Sagnip, Office of Congressman Chris Smith

 

WASHINGTON, Aug 9 — Thousands of American families struggling on very different fronts will received federal support now that President Obama has signed into law two separate bills late Friday, one to help prevent international child abduction and return American children now held overseas, and the other targeting $1.3 billion in federal funds to assist families touched by autism.

“What a momentous day for thousands of families across America,” said Rep. Chris Smith, the author of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction and Return Act (H.R. 3212) and the author of the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Support (CARES) Act (H.R. 4631). “While different in scope, these new laws have one, overriding common theme: making the federal government work better for children and families.

“Yesterday, if you were a parent whose American child was abducted to a foreign land, the State Department took a step back and quickly outlined the limitations on what it would do to help,” Smith said.

“With the enactment of the ‘Goldman Act’ that policy changes. The State Department gets new tools to effectively engage the fight and work several fronts to get our children back,” Smith said.

“The Goldman Act works to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction, end the enormous pain and suffering endured by separated children and parents, and force the federal government to act to bring abducted children home,” Smith said. “Left behind parents will now have tangible support and backing from their federal government.”

Smith’s Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Support Act, The Autism CARES Act, builds on Smith’s long established record of assisting the now 1-68 children who have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the latest CDC data released in March, New Jersey has the highest prevalence rate in the nation, with one in 45 children identified as having ASD.

“The Autism CARES Act authorizes $1.3 billion over five years to continue the critical pipeline of federal research dollars that are working to identify best practices for early intervention, treatment and care for families touched by autism,” said Smith who has authored previous legislation that has helped form the base line of federal autism programs.

“And the new law, for the first time, tasks the federal government with examining and anticipating needs for autistic adolescents who are ‘aging out’ of their school-based support and transitioning into adulthood,” he said.

Last month Smith held a congressional hearing that delved into successful corporate programs designed to employ persons with ASD worldwide. He said every year 50,000 youths with autism enter into adulthood and communities that are unprepared to meet their need. The federal government can and must play a role in identifying new ways to assist people with ASD in our communities.

Smith said both laws were inspired by the love, work and tenacity of local parents fighting for their children.

The child abduction law is named after David Goldman and his son Sean of Monmouth County, N.J. who were separated for over five years after an international abduction to Brazil. Smith traveled to Brazil with David Goldman twice to help bring Sean home in 2009. Goldman now works to help other left behind parents reunite with their children.

“We finally have a national law that has some teeth in it to prevent future abductions and also get immediate action for victim families,” said David Goldman. “Just as it had been in my case, many of these families have been suffering for years fighting to be reunited with their abducted American children. This is a terrific result of bipartisan work. The enactment of this law has been long overdue and is a life boat for these families.”

Regarding the Autism CARES Act, Smith credited Bobbie and Billy Gallagher of Ocean County, N.J.–the parents of two small children with autism who visited his office 17 years ago. Using their own extensive research, the Gallaghers demonstrated how far behind the federal research agencies were in their understanding and work on autism.

“The Gallaghers are pioneers in the effort to find better treatment and interventions for children with autism. Together with other parents they have been tenacious in their efforts to see this bill passed into law,” Smith said.

“The laws we have today to help families with autism would not be on the books were it not for them,” he said.

##

 

N.J. mom step closer to reunion after Obama signs law about international child abduction

By Cristina Rojas, Times of Trenton, NJ.com

 

AUGUST 9, 2014 — The last time Bindu Philips saw her twin boys was in 2012 when she traveled to India for a mediation hearing — but only for a few minutes. For nearly six years, she has been embroiled in an international custody battle with her now ex-husband over their boys, now 13.

Her ordeal could come to an end soon after President Obama signed into law Friday legislation that authorizes the State Department to take increasingly forceful measures against any country that does not help return an American child illegally held there.

“I’m longing to see my children,” the Plainsboro mom, 43, said today. “I really hope I will be reunited with them soon.”

The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act is inspired by a Tinton Falls father whose son was kept in Brazil by his wife and her parents for more than five years.

“The Goldman Act works to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction, end the enormous pain and suffering endured by separated children and parents and force the federal government to act to bring abducted children home,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), who sponsored the bill. “Left-behind parents will now have tangible support and backing from their federal government.”

Philips’ ex-husband, Sunil Jacob, took the family on a sudden vacation to India in December 2008. He separated the children from her and kept them from seeing her parents. After three weeks, he enrolled them in a school without her knowledge. The principal let her talk with them twice a week, but when Jacob learned of this, he transferred them to another school.

She returned home to the U.S. after a few months and has continued to fight for them ever since. He denies her all contact; efforts to send them messages and motherly advice via a website were shut down by an Indian court order.

“The abductor plans everything so well that the left-behind parent really gets taken by surprise,” Philips said, who fears that Jacob has brainwashed her sons into thinking that she abandoned them. “They make the children turn against a parent who really loves them.”

The thought that she could finally be reunited with them gives her a renewed energy to face each day.

##

 

Obama signs new laws on autism, abducted children

By Patricia Alex, The Record, NorthJersey.com

 

AUGUST 10, 2014 — President Obama has signed into law a bill designed to thwart international child abduction and help return American children now held by estranged spouses overseas, according to an announcement by the measure’s sponsor in the House of Representatives.

“The State Department gets new tools to effectively engage the fight and work on several fronts to get our children back.” the sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R-Monmouth and Mercer, said in a press release issued Saturday. “Left behind parents will now have tangible support and backing from their federal government.”

Smith’s office also announced the signing of another bill he sponsored that would target $1.3 billion in federal funds to assist families touched by autism.

The two bills, signed Friday night, received bipartisan support and were sponsored in the Senate by Robert Menendez, D-Paramus.

The child-abduction law would help parents whose children have been illegally taken abroad by former spouses, allowing the State Department to act on the issue and in some cases to impose economic sanctions by withholding aid.

The bill was prompted by the case of Tinton Falls resident David Goldman, whose wife abducted their 4-year-old son, Sean, and took him to Brazil. Sean was returned by Brazilian courts in December 2009, more than five years after he was abducted and years after his mother died.

So-called left-behind parents have spent years seeking federal intervention and trying to get people to understand that these are not custody battles but rather violations of American law.

More than 90 nations have signed the Hague Convention, which is supposed to uphold court-ordered custody provisions. The new law would cover nations that are not part of the Hague Convention and give the State Department additional tools for those that are but are not complying with custody arrangements made in the U.S.

The law requires annual reports to determine which nations are not complying, and it allows for punishing them by delaying or canceling state visits and limiting or eliminating various forms of economic assistance. It also allows for the U.S. to make extradition requests.

“We finally have a national law that has some teeth in it to prevent future abductions and also get immediate action for victim families,” Goldman said in the press release issued by Smith. “Just as it had been in my case, many of these families have been suffering for years fighting to be reunited with their abducted American children.”

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research and Support Act — or the Autism CARES Act — authorizes $1.3 billion over five years for federal research to identify best practices for early intervention, treatment and care for families touched by the disorder, Smith said.

The measure involves the federal government in “anticipating the needs” of autistic adolescents who are “aging out” of school-based support programs.

##

 

Share

Exactly Five Years to the Day of First Introduction, Smith’s Int’l Child Abduction Bill Passes Senate; Heads Back to House for Final Approval

Bill prods State Dept. and provides tools to bring American children home

Written by Jeff Sagnip, Office of Congressman Chris Smith


 

On Wednesday, July 16, exactly five years to the day that Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) introduced his first bill to prevent international parental child abduction, the U.S. Senate finally approved Smith’s legislation, The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, House of Representatives Bill 3212 (H.R. 3212).

Smith wrote the original proposed legislation in 2009 subsequent to his personal intervention in the fight to bring Sean Goldman home to New Jersey, years after he had been abducted to Brazil by his mother. Smith’s successful work with Sean’s father, David, and a team of lawyers, volunteers and media helped bring Sean home, but also uncovered gaping weaknesses in U.S. law and the need to codify best practices so that other Americans will also see their children returned home.

 

PICTURED: David Goldman and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ4), July 16, 2009.


 

At its core, Smith’s legislation will give the State Department a variety of tools to pressure foreign governments to send home American children abducted to overseas destinations. The bill also requires better reporting and support from the State Department so that left-behind parents are not on their own in overseas battles to win the return of their abducted children.

During his five year struggle, Smith has authored four versions of the bill (HR 3240; HR 1940; HR 1951 and HR 3212) using each to educate his colleagues and make modifications aimed at winning widespread support in an increasingly partisan congress. In December 2013, the House passed Smith’s bill unanimously, 398-0. Smith said he was grateful that Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Republican Bob Corker released the bill out of committee to the Senate floor where it passed unanimously in a voice vote, with some final modifications.

“In the five-year push to turn this bill into law, we have seen a sea change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction—an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation. There are many heartbroken parents waiting for this bill to help them in their fight to see their children again.

“Many children and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S. and international law,” Smith said. “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time—that they can never get back. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fights to recover their children. Every day a child is separated from his or her rightful parent and home in the United States brings immense suffering to both parent and child. The Goldman Act is designed to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction and heal enormous pain and suffering and bring abducted children home.”

In 2013, Smith named the bill after David and Sean Goldman who have been reunited in Monmouth County for nearly five years. Following Sean’s return to New Jersey, David Goldman has stayed active in promoting the legislation in an effort to spare other parents and children the painful, illegal separation he and his son endured for five years.

Smith has held multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries, from which few are returned. Not all countries have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions. The Hague provides a civil framework for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and facilitation of visitation and contact between parents and children during the pendency of the case and after the resolution. Unfortunately, many Hague signatories, like Brazil, fail to consistently enforce the Hague Convention provisions.

Among its many provisions, H.R. 3212 provides eight steps the Administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children:

  • a demarche;
  • an official public statement detailing unresolved cases;
  • a public condemnation;
  • a delay or cancellation of one or more bilateral working, official, or state visits;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. security assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of foreign assistance to the central government of a country relating to economic support; and
  • a formal request to the foreign country concerned to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense.
  •  

    The bill also—for the first time—urges the Administration to enter into Memorandums of Understanding or other bilateral agreements with non-Hague Convention countries to locate and foster the return of abducted children and protect the access of the left-behind parent to the child. In order to ensure better accountability of the Administration and to warn U.S. judges who may allow a child to visit a country from which return is difficult, the bill significantly enhances reporting on country-by-country performance.

    H.R. 3212 also requires the Administration to inform Members of Congress about abducted children from their districts. It also that directs the Secretary of Defense shall designate an official within the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Department of State on international child abduction issues and “oversee activities designed to prevent or resolve international child abduction cases relating to active duty military service members.

    “Currently, if you have a child who is illegally taken to a non-Hague country, the State Department position is that there’s nothing it can do to help,” Smith said. “That’s totally unacceptable. With this bill, for the first time ever, parents with children held in non-Hague countries can work with the State Department. They won’t be on their own, far from the United States, desperately trying to get their children back. The Act also ensures that the Department of Defense will assist our men and women in uniform who find themselves facing parental child abduction.”

    More than one thousand international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues each year. Between 2008 and 2013, at least 8,000 American children were abducted, according to the State Department. Earlier this year, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reported that there have been at least 168 international child abductions from New Jersey since 1995.

     

    ##

     

    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

    Share

    Looking for something?

    Looking for Help

    Please contact us immediately!

    QR Scan

    Scan the Code to access BSHF on your Smartphone.
    Need a Code Reader?