This is one of those cases where one has to give the immigration lawyer involved credit for creativity … even though his client lost in the end.
Here is the situation from the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Alabama: Andreas Andreason, Jr., a U.S. citizen, was on trial for immigration-related fraud in connection with his marriage to Katerina Petrasova, a Czech national, who was using the marriage to get a green card. (She was indicted, too.)
Andreason's lawyer tried to argue that his client's motivation was not solely to violate the immigration law, that Andreason was also interested in consensual sex with Ms. Petrasova and that because he had this double motive, he was not violating the Immigration and Nationality Act. His pitch: a marriage had to be solely designed to create an immigration benefit to be illegal, and this was not his client's situation, thus he was not guilty.
The government saw the argument coming and filed a motion in limine (meaning "at the threshold") asking the judge to rule out that line of argument before the trial started. The judge agreed, saying that if one of the motivations for the marriage was immigration fraud, that was enough to create a federal violation.
He did not quite say so, but effectively ruled that sex was the frosting on this wedding cake.
Given the ruling on what was apparently the defendants' sole defense, both caved and have entered into plea agreements. Sentences have not yet been handed down.
This case is one of the exceptions that proves the rule. In this instance the rule is that immigration-related marriage fraud is about as sexy as a suit between accountants. Marriage fraud is routinely a hands-off deal between a criminal citizen and a criminal alien in which the first gets money, and the second gets a green card, without any further complications. But not in this case.
It is not clear what the sentences will be — though I doubt that she can avoid deportation — but it is refreshing, this time, to see both the citizen and the alien indicted; sometimes the citizen is let off as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Let's hope for jail time for both of them.
A report on this case appeared in the October 22 issue of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper, but that is not online. Users of PACER, the US courts' electronic filing system, can see the indictment at Southern District of Alabama 1:12-cr-00152-WS-B-1 document 1.