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S. 1164 (116th): Keeping Infants Domestically Safe Act of 2019

Apparently some forms of child selling are still legal under federal law.


It is illegal under federal law to provide or facilitate child prostitution. However, a loophole still allows the sale of a child for non-sexual purposes, such as financial gain or black market adoptions.

News stories of the sort include a Mississippi woman who tried selling her two-week-old grandson for $2,000 and a car, and a Texas woman who sold her 7-year-old son for $2,500 to pay off drug debts.

Although some states have criminalized all forms of child sales, such a blanket ban does not currently exist under federal law.

What the bill does

The Keeping Infants Domestically Safe (KIDS) Act would criminalize the selling of minors for any reason — not just for sexual exploitation, as under current federal law.

Any offender would be subject to a minimum 30 years in prison. That’s stiffer than the 15 year minimum current prison sentence for sex trafficking a minor under federal law.

The bill was introduced on April 11 as bill number S. 1164, by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill would provide a much-needed protection for vulnerable children, closing a loophole that it’s hard to argue should remain open.

“It’s hard to believe any parent or guardian would sell a child, but it happens and it warrants federal attention,” lead sponsor Hyde-Smith said in a press release. “The KIDS Act would give federal officials the ability to fight black market adoptions and encourage the legal adoption process.”

“The government has a responsibility to protect children, especially from individuals who would try to profit from exploitation of a child,” Mississippi’s other senator and cosponsor Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said. “This legislation would give federal prosecutors another tool to stop black market adoptions and punish individuals who abuse the legal adoption process.”

Unsurprisingly, GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any statements of opposition.

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted four Senate cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a possible vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last updated May 6, 2019. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 11, 2019.

Keeping Infants Domestically Safe Act of 2019 or the KIDS Act

This bill expands the scope of the criminal conduct related to buying and selling minors (i.e., individuals under 18 years of age).

Current law prohibits buying or selling a minor for the purpose of producing child pornography.

This bill prohibits buying or selling a minor in exchange for money or any other consideration for any purpose other than a legal adoption.