Washington – Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) today urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to increase 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.
Every year, several hundred American children are abducted by one parent and brought to a foreign country, where they are isolated from their other parent, family members, and friends. Abduction can have a profound impact on a child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
In their letter to Secretary Pompeo, Senators Feinstein and Tillis noted that in 2014, Congress passed the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, which gave the State Department a variety of tools to pressure foreign governments to bring abducted children back home. These tools range from official public condemnations to the withdrawal of development assistance. However, the Senators also noted that since the legislation became law, the State Department has used demarches—which are simple diplomatic communications— as the sole means of attempting to secure a child’s return, with little results to show for it.
“The 2018 [State Department] annual report and subsequent action report demonstrate the State Department is still failing to use all of the tools necessary to secure the return of our American children even though multiple hearings the Senate and House have rejected the demarches-only approach,” the senators wrote. “This approach is clearly failing. The number of children kidnapped from and then returned to the U.S. has shown no measurable improvement over the years. Simply issuing demarches, raising cases with foreign government officials and empty threats are not American bringing children home.”
“…We write to you today to again urge the Department of State to use all the tools and resources at its disposal to bring these abducted children home,” the letter continued. “As United States Senators, we cannot simply sit by and watch the State Department continue to issue ineffective demarches while countries continue to shelter those who abduct our citizen-children. We are committed to ensuring the return of every American child abducted abroad and we will not stop working on their behalf.”
The full text of the letter is available here.