A Bizarre Effort to End Child Marriages — an Unfaced Immigration Problem

By David North on April 29, 2022

Suppose it is a cold winter day and, in order to warm up the house, you visit every window to make sure each is shut tight and the curtains are drawn — but meanwhile you leave the front and back doors wide open to the cold wind.

That would be an odd and counter-productive way to try to warm the house, but a migration-related agency is using that exact strategy in an attempt to end child marriages between young U.S. citizen girls and older men from the girls’ families' home countries. Those homelands are routinely in the Indian subcontinent or the Middle East.

I was reminded of this bizarre situation when the Tahirih Justice Center in suburban Virginia issued a press release because Maryland (one of the metaphorical windows) passed a bill limiting, but not ending, child marriages in that state.

There is not a word in the press release to suggest that this is primarily a problem created by alien men who cannot get into this country legally and permanently unless they impose themselves on young American citizens. Not a word.

While I am entirely in favor of the Maryland law, and even stricter ones in other states, it is clear that what is needed is a national law prohibiting child marriages, one that would be enforced by our immigration agencies.

Why tiptoe around and spend so much effort and money to close those windows one at a time, while leaving the doors wide open?

The answer is that the Tahirih Justice Center, which gets $10 million a year in gifts and grants, according to its 990 filings with IRS, is vehemently pro-immigration and seems to want to end the child marriage practice without restricting immigration in any way.

The goal of the organization is stated in the 990 as: “Protecting courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence.”

That is a bit misleading. The organization is surely opposed to violence, but the people it is trying to help in the child marriage controversy are typically citizens, often the children of immigrants, but not immigrants themselves. But Tahirih apparently does not want to appear to be defending citizens against aliens, the real problem, so their mission statement blurs what they do.

The basic problem is that an all-too-relaxed Department of Homeland Security and an even less responsible Congress have allowed the definition of child marriage to be made by the states, not by the federal government. Maryland didn't raise the marriage age to 18 under all circumstances, as some states have done, but merely raised it from a shocking 15 to 17, with some extra protections for 17-year-olds.

The non-recognition of the child marriage problem by the feds, and many of the states, is because too many decision-makers are unwilling to face the twin facts that 1) many alien cultures allow child marriage abuses; and 2) the immigration law is tilted in favor of these male-dominated cultures. Further, and Tahirih never mentions this fact, every child marriage between a citizen and an alien brings one more alien into the country, because he is regarded as an immediate relative, and thus his admission is free of any numerical limitations.

What Tahirih should do is to spend its millions lobbying Washington to change the immigration law — but what it prefers to do is to try to seek reform in this immigration-related field by ignoring the immigration part of it, and wasting its energy in a state-by-state strategy.

They should be seeking to close the doors to the house in wintertime.