In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) created the Prevent Departure Program to ensure that no alien shall depart or attempt to depart from the United States if his/her departure would be prejudicial to the interest of the United States. This program may also be an effective tool to stop international child abductions. The Program only applies to aliens. It is not available to stop US citizens or those holding dual citizenship with the United States and another country.
In order to qualify for the program, it is imperative that the family court with jurisdiction over custody matters issues an order preventing the potential abductor from leaving the United States with the child(ren). Once the order is obtained, only law enforcement officers and/or the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues can request an alert for an alien abductor and/or an alien child by contacting the Department of Homeland Security’s National Targeting Center. The telephone number for the DHS National Tagging Center is (703) 391-1733. It may take up to two (2) days to be added to the alert list, although urgent cases may be handled much faster (in a few hours) upon request. It is important to note that neither parents nor attorneys cannot contact the Department of Homeland Security to be put on the list, this can be only be done by law enforcement personnel.
Once on the list, if the abductor and the child are identified they will be denied boarding. To detain them after boarding is denied, there must be a court order prohibiting the child’s removal or providing for the child’s pickup.
If you have any questions regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s Prevent Departure Program please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan, PA.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.