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Congressional Record [.PDF]
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
2003 Ron Paul 36:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, as an OB–GYN who has had the privilege of bringing over 3,000 children into the world, I share the desire to punish severely those who sexually abuse children. In fact, it is hard to imagine someone more deserving of life in prison than one who preys on children. Therefore, I certainly support those parts of H.R. 1104 which enhance the punishment for those convicted of federal crimes involving sexual assaults on children.
2003 Ron Paul 36:2
I also support the provisions increasing the post-incarceration supervision of sex offenders. However, given the likelihood that a sex offender will attempt to commit another sex crime, it is reasonable to ask why rapists and child molesters are not simply imprisoned for life?
2003 Ron Paul 36:3
However, Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that making the AMBER Alert system a Federal program is neither constitutionally sound nor effective law enforcement. All Americans should be impressed at the demonstrated effectiveness of the AMBER system in locating missing and kidnapped children. However, I would ask my colleagues to consider that one of the factors that makes the current AMBER system so effective is that the AMBER Alert system is not a Federal program. Instead, states and local governments developed AMBER Alerts on their own, thus ensuring that each AMBER system meets the unique needs of individual jurisdictions. Once the AMBER Alert system becomes a one-size-fits all Federal program (with standards determined by DC-based bureaucrats instead of communitybased law enforcement officials) local officials will not be able to tailor the AMBER Alert to fit their unique circumstances. Thus, nationalizing the AMBER system will cause this important program to lose some of its effectiveness.
2003 Ron Paul 36:4
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1104 also exceeds Congress constitutional authority by criminalizing travel with the intent of committing a crime. As appalling as it is that some would travel abroad to engage in activities that are rightly illegal in the United States, legislation of this sort poses many problems and offers few solutions. First among these problems is the matter of national sovereignty. Those who travel abroad and break the law in their host country should be subject to prosecution in that country: it is the responsibility of the host country — not the U.S. Congress — to uphold its own laws. It is a highly unique proposal to suggest that committing a crime in a foreign country against a non-US citizen is within the jurisdiction of the United States Government.
2003 Ron Paul 36:5
Mr. Speaker, this legislation makes it a Federal crime to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. I do not think this is a practical approach to the problem. It seems that this bill actually seeks to probe the conscience of anyone who seeks to travel abroad to make sure they do not have illegal or immoral intentions. Is it possible or even advisable to make thoughts and intentions illegal? And how is this to be carried out? Should Federal agents be assigned to each travel agency to probe potential travelers as to the intent of their travel?
2003 Ron Paul 36:6
At a time when Federal resources are stretched to the limit, American troops are preparing for imminent military conflict, and when we are not even able to keep known terrorists out of our own country, this bill would require Federal agents to not only track Americans as they vacation abroad, but would also require that they be able to divine the intentions of these individuals who seek to travel abroad. Talk about a tall order! As well-intentioned as I am sure this legislation is, I do not believe that it is a practical or well-thought-out approach to what I agree is a serious and disturbing problem. Perhaps a better approach would be to share with those interested countries our own laws and approaches to prosecuting those who commit these kinds of crimes, so as to see more effective capture and punishment of these criminals in the countries where the crime is committed.
2003 Ron Paul 36:7
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, while H.R. 1104 has some good provisions aimed at enhancing the penalties of those who commit the most heinous of crimes, it also weakens the effective AMBER Alert program by nationalizing it. H.R. 542 also raises serious civil liberties and national sovereignty concerns by criminalizing intent and treating violations of criminal law occurring in other countries jurisdictions as violations of American criminal law.