The greatness of America is a magnet for people from all over the world, and they come for many reasons and in numerous ways. Americans welcome all immigrants who come with attitudes and skills that add to America and who come legally. However, we are very much against anyone who comes to America with ulterior motives or who take advantage of our laws and compassion. There are people who invade the United States by crossing the southern border illegally, and there are people who take a more personal journey into America.
Ashe Schow posted an interesting article titled “Americans Conned Into Marrying Immigrants For Green Cards.” She tells the story of Kyle Haney who fell in love with Tabitha, a woman from India. He felt that he had found his soul mate and proposed to her. They married and had a child together. Tabitha received a Green Card, left Kyle within two months, and petitioned for divorce citing lies about her American husband. Kyle and his family were stunned, but they discovered through research that Tabitha was not the first immigrant to marry an American for a Green Card.
The Haney family noticed in their research that Tabitha’s lies were the very words needed to file for protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This law was designed to protect immigrant women who may be abused by their American husbands. The Haney family believes that Tabitha used a provision in this law to get out of her marriage and to petition for her own legal status.
…The original intention of the provision was to help abused immigrants, who may be afraid to report abuse if they rely on their spouse for their immigration status. This provision, however, appears to have led to a growing number of “marriage fraud” claims, wherein an immigrant falsely accuses their spouse of abuse in order to gain their citizenship and start a life of their own. Conveniently, VAWA keeps the government from investigating marriage-fraud claims.
“They’re now using VAWA as a means by which to escape the two-year requirement to remain in the marital relationship, without drawing any suspicion to themselves,” John Sampson, a retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, told NBC.
He also said he suspected a lot of the VAWA claims he saw during his time with ICE were actually fraudulent. He says some 1,500 Americans have contacted him believing they’re victims of this trend.
Sampson told NBC that investigators treat American spouses as a “prohibited source of information” during VAWA abuse claims. Because the immigrant is automatically assumed to be telling the truth, thus requiring safety, ICE investigators don’t even inform the American spouse of the abuse claim. There’s literally no downside for immigrants to fraudulently make such a claim.
Kyle Haney is not the only American in this situation. Sophia Barnes shares the stories of three Americans who married foreigners only to be divorced because of loopholes in the immigration laws. The first story sounds a great deal like Haney’s story. The second one is the story of a man named Art. He lived in Costa Rica for a few years before returning to the U.S. and settling in Philadelphia. While on the island he dated a woman for several years and fell in love with her. He sponsored her to come to America, but the woman left him before their first wedding anniversary, claiming that he was abusive. He believes that the marriage was a sham to enable his wife to come to the US and to remain here legally.
The third story is about a woman named Elena who met a man while he was visiting from Holland. She fell in love and married him. On the eve of their second anniversary, he asked for a divorce. He said, “We only did this for immigration….” She reported the fraud to immigration authorities who refused to investigate. She did not know at the time that US immigration laws required a marriage to last for at least two years in order for the immigrant spouse to have legal status here.
American men and women are being used and their hearts broken by foreigners who want to immigrate to the US and receive legal status. However, I do not believe that all marriages with foreigners are fraudulent. I personally know of numerous young men who have married young women from foreign nations. Some of them are members of my own family, and some of them are friends of my family.
Of all such marriages in my circle, one has ended in divorce and one is most likely headed that way. Numerous years after their marriage, my nephew left his immigrant wife and several children for another woman. By that time, she had legal status of her own and had become an American citizen. The other case is the son of a good friend who married a young woman from Nigeria (?). She may not have known of his previous drug use when she married him, but he went back to drugs sometime after the marriage. I understand that she has come to the conclusion that she cannot save the marriage but is staying in it long enough to receive legal status. Maybe he will drop the drug habit, straighten out his life, and save his marriage, but maybe he will not. At any rate, I do not believe that either of these women committed fraud.
Since NBC Washington reported on marriage fraud, they were contacted by 30 more potential fraud victims. Any immigrant who stays in the marriage for two years does not have to claim abuse, but numerous immigrants are claiming abuse to get out of the marriage earlier.
There is some hope that the loopholes will be closed. The Haney family and others “met with justice and homeland security policy staffers” to discuss the problem. Since VAWA is supposed to be reauthorized this year, maybe the Trump administration will close some of the loopholes to stop the fraud and avoid much heartbreak in the process.