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Preventing International Child Abduction

 

INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION (IPCA)

Federal law prohibits a parent from removing a child from the United States or retaining a child in another country with intent to obstruct another parent´s custodial rights (18 U.S.C. § 1204). As required by Title III of the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act 6 U.S.C. 241, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and other federal agencies, has established a program that seeks to prevent the departure of a child from the United States when presented with an valid, enforceable court order which prohibits the child’s removal from the United States.

If you are concerned that your child is at risk of being abducted internationally by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf

  • Obtain a valid, enforceable U.S. court order that includes prevention provisions, such as restrictions on removing the child from the U.S.
  • Contact U.S. Department of State (DOS) Office of Children’s Issues for 24/7 assistance:

If you believe that your child is in the process of being abducted internationally by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf

  • Immediately notify local or airport police and provide them with copies of court orders
  • Request that they enter your child and the possible abductor(s), if known, into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database
  • Contact U.S. Department of State (DOS) Office of Children’s Issues for 24/7 assistance:

If your child has already been abducted internationally by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf

 

PREVENT ABDUCTION PROGRAM

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Prevent Abduction program can assist in the prevention of IPCA (6 U.S.C § 241)

CBP coordinates with DOS Office of Children’s Issues on IPCA cases 

  • DOS Office of Children’s Issues submits potential IPCA cases to CBP for enrollment into CBP’s Prevent Abduction program
    • IPCA cases must include a valid, enforceable U.S. court order indicating the child is prohibited from being removed from the U.S.
  • CBP creates travel alerts for the child at risk of IPCA and any potential abductor(s) involved
    • CBP continuously monitors Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) data in real-time on passengers traveling to and from the U.S. using commercial carriers and vets that information against the travel alerts
  • If a child at risk of IPCA or potential abductor(s) attempts travel aboard a commercial carrier their travel alert data will match against their APIS data, and CBP will be notified automatically.
  • Once travel is identified, CBP officers working the Prevent Abduction Program notify DOS Office of Children’s Issues and coordinates with the CBP officers at the airport, seaport, or land border Ports-of-Entry (POE) on intercepting the child before departure.
  • CBP at the airport, seaport, or land border POEs further coordinates with local law enforcement on enforcing the valid court order.
Last modified: 
June 11, 2018