Hundred of international parental child abduction cases are reported to the U.S. State Department each year, and left-behind parents are finding it difficult to receive help:
Monica Sanchez, who lives in San Marcos, bounced between law enforcement agencies for days after her ex-boyfriend, Armando Muñoz Garcia, abducted their 2-year-old daughter Sarahi in January 2012. Sanchez reported the kidnapping to the San Marcos Police Department, but officers told her they needed proof of legal custody in order to help her. The Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office said the same thing.
Sanchez had filed for custody of her daughter, but the court hadn’t ruled in the case. Under the law, it’s a crime for one parent to take a child out of the country without the other parent’s permission. Sanchez didn’t know this.
The federal government requires law enforcement agencies to immediately report missing children under the age of 18 to the National Crime Information Center, whether the parent filing the report has a custody order or not. And Texas recently approved a law that makes international abductions a felony. Yet most law enforcement officers refuse to file missing persons reports without a custody order, which requires an attorney and takes time and money to acquire. In the meantime, a parent can slip out of the country with his child before officers can stop him.