The U.S. House has passed a bill to expand efforts in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track registered child sex offenders' travel plans as a means of combatting human trafficking, The Hill reports. The measure, passed by voice vote on Monday, would codify DHS’s “Operation Angel Watch” program that determines whether countries should be notified of sex offenders' travel. Under the legislation, sex offenders would be required to report to law enforcement when they plan to travel internationally. Failure to comply could bring a prison term of up to ten years.
The State Department will be obligated to create a unique identifier for child sex offenders' passports. Lawmakers said the provisions would help prevent sex offenders from trying to break the law undetected. “Child predators thrive on secrecy,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill's author. The House previously passed a version of the bill last January, and the Senate later approved it with amendments by unanimous consent in December. Congress last year approved legislation to create a fund for victims of sex trafficking and prioritize states for federal grants if they establish “safe harbor” laws for child victims of trafficking.