Immigration Loophole Allowed 8,686 Child Marriages in the United States
The child marriages consist of mostly girls brought in from outside the country,
A massive loophole in Washington’s bizarre immigration laws has allowed over 8,000 child marriages to take place, according to reports.
The child marriages consist of mostly girls brought in from outside the country, according to a new Senate report released Friday.
In one case, a 71-year-old obtained a visa for a 17-year-old from Guatemala, according to the bipartisan report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Reform Committee chaired by Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson
Following a year-long investigation, the report highlights a twist in policies that promote child marriages and child trafficking in the US.
[RELATED] 'Poorly Written' Child Trafficking Law 'Reason For Border Crisis,' Officials Say
What's even stranger is that the State Department is fighting child marriages overseas while seemingly ignoring ones at home.
It also shows the complicated web of immigration laws that allow so much corruption to take place, something that president Trump is trying to rewrite and reform.
“U.S. law and U.S. Department of State policy aim to prevent and reduce the risks of child marriages occurring around the world, yet major loopholes in U.S. law have allowed thousands of minors to be subjected to child marriages,” the committee’s report said.
“Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a U.S. child may petition for a visa for a spouse or fiance living in another country, and a U.S. adult may petition for a visa for a minor spouse or fiance living abroad,” it stated.
The committee estimated that under the Obama era, 8,686 visas for child spouses or finances were approved.
“In 95 percent of the cases, the younger person was a girl,” said the report.
And overall, more than 3 million of the spousal and fiance visas were OK'd over that time.
Legally enabling child, forced & early marriage is appalling to say the least. When #childmarriage is permitted legally in 48 US States and now this! Not acceptable by any standard. #endchildmarriage #achildisachild @GirlsNotBrides @UnchainedAtLast @UNICEF @hrw @GlblCtzn https://t.co/ebY2WXRJ1N— Nesha Abiraj (@AbirajNesha) January 11, 2019
According to The Washington Examiner: Some of those seeking visas were older citizens, others were to very young citizens attempting to bring their spouses into the U.S., including those who were forced into marriage overseas and prompted to bring their spouses to America.
Said the report:
“USCIS awarded petitions to people with significant age differences, including a 71-year-old U.S. citizen’s petition for a 17-year-old spouse from Guatemala and a 14-year-old’s petition for a 48-year-old spouse from Jamaica. USCIS approved 149 petitions involving a minor with an adult spouse or fiance who was more than 40 years old.”
In one case, the committee spoke with a U.S. citizen forced to marry her first cousin during a family vacation to Pakistan.
“USCIS approved her petition for a spousal immigration benefit for her cousin when she was 13-years-old after she returned to the United States. "
"She is just one of the thousands of U.S. women and girls forced into a child marriage involving the U.S. immigration system,” said the report, titled, “How the U.S. Immigration System Encourages Child Marriages.”
Getting a visa for a spouse or fiance requires approval from State and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The government does not need parental consent even if the petition for a visa is made by a minor.
According to the report:
“Over the last eleven years (FY2007 to FY2017), USCIS approved 3,595,447 petitions for spousal or fiance entry into the United States. Of those, 8,686 involved a minor. Two minors whose petitions were approved were 13 years old (and later rejected), 38 were 14 years old, 269 were 15 years old, 1,768 were 16 years old, and the remaining 6,609 were 17 years old.”