The Immigration Components of the Adam Walsh Act
May 2, 2007

In recent years, outrage over crimes against children has led many states to enforce a variety of laws aimed at protecting children from child predators. One such law, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“Adam Walsh Act”) was signed into effect in the past year and several of its immigration provisions have been implemented in the field in recent months. The law is aimed to provide further protection to children from sexual exploitation, violent crimes, child abuse, child pornography and to further promote internet safety. The law not only guides states in the creation of a national sex offender registry and makes failure of sex offenders to register a felony, but also extends into the sphere of immigration.

Title IV of the Adam Walsh Act seeks to provide protection to unsuspecting immigrants who may be unaware of the criminal past of their petitioner. The law now prohibits any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who has been convicted of any “specified offense against a minor” from filing any type of family-based immigration petition for any beneficiary, regardless of age. This includes fiancé petitions, Form I-130, Petition to Classify Orphan, Form I-600A and I-600. However, this prohibition for an individual petitioner may be waived if the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determines that the petitioner poses no risk to the beneficiary.

The Adam Walsh Act defines a minor as a person who has not reached the age of 18 and a “specified offense against a minor” as any of the following:

  • Kidnapping,
  • False imprisonment,
  • Solicitation to engage in sexual conduct,
  • Use in sexual performance,
  • Solicitation to practice prostitution,
  • Video voyeurism (use of a webcam to watch children)
  • Possession, production, or distribution of child pornography,
  • Criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, or the use of the Internet to facilitate or attempt such conduct, and
  • Any conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor.

The Adam Walsh Act also states that any alien who is convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, is deportable. This does not just apply to those offenders who committed a sexual offense against a minor, but any sex offender, regardless of the age of their victim.

Copyright © 2007-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois