The Adam Walsh ActAdam Walsh Act

What is the Adam Walsh Act?

The Adam Walsh Act is a federal statute that was signed into U.S. law in 2006 under the Bush administration. It was designed to protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crimes. The Act created the national sex offender registry and strengthened federal penalties for individuals who have committed crimes against children, such as sex trafficking or child prostitution. The Act also made it harder for individuals to prey on children by creating State-level taskforces which could combat the sexual exploitation of children on the internet.

So How Does this Act Play into U.S. Immigration Law?

The Adam Walsh Act amended the Immigration Nationality Act to prohibit U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of any “specified offense against a minor” from filing a family-based immigrant petition on behalf of any beneficiary.

What are the “Specified Offenses”?

The offenses outlined in the Immigration Nationality Act refer to any offense against a minor that involves the following:

  • An offense (unless committed by a parent or guardian) involving kidnapping;
  • An offense (unless committed by a parent or guardian) involving false imprisonment;
  • Solicitation to engage in sexual conduct;
  • Use in a sexual performance;
  • Solicitation to practice prostitution;
  • Video voyeurism as described in section 1801 of Title 18, United States Code;
  • 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; or
  • Any conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor.

Any foreign national who is convicted under these guidelines for failing to register as a sex offender is subject to removal from the United States.

Can Someone Who Has Been Convicted Under the Act Still File for an Immigration Benefit?

The purpose of the Adam Walsh act is to protect minors from being placed at risk of harm from the person seeking to facilitate their immigration to the United States. If the petitioner has been convicted of one of the specified offenses above, the only way that they will be able to continue with their petition is by having the Secretary of Homeland Security determine that the petitioner poses no risk to the beneficiary. This decision is in the Secretary’s “sole and unreviewable” authority.

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