Court: No Green Card from Abuse by Bigamous Spouse

By David North on December 12, 2011

One of the more obscure ways an alien can get a green card is to marry someone who turns out to be an abusive spouse, who is either a permanent resident alien or a USC, and then contend that the spouse abused you.

That's OK generally, the Eleventh Circuit ruled recently in Alhuay v. U.S. Attorney General, but it does not work if you, the alien spouse, had married the abuser bigamously.

The illegal alien woman who tried that argument, and lost, was Maria Gladys Alhuay, who married four different men, one of them twice.

Chronologically, it goes like this:

  • In 1975, in Peru, she married a Mr. Saldana;

  • In 1990 she came to the U.S. as an EWI;

  • In 1992, without divorcing Saldana, she married a Mr. Diaz;

  • She soon divorced Diaz and married a Mr. Quesnay in 1993, while still married to Saldana;

  • The couple had a son, then Quesnay, an LPR, filed a spousal petition for her;

  • In 1995 she filed for a green card on the grounds that he was abusing her;

  • In 1997 she obtained a green card as a "battered spouse" – later it was ruled that she had secured it through fraud;

  • In 1997 they divorced, but re-married later that year;

  • In 2000 she divorced Quesnay again;

  • In 2005 she got a Peruvian divorce from Aldana and applied for naturalization;

  • The next year she married a Mr. Condori;

  • In 2007 DHS noticed that she has been illegally in the country for 17 years and started removal proceedings.

  • In 2011, after some intermediary steps, the 11th Circuit upheld another court's removal order, saying that her LPR status had been obtained by fraud, on the grounds that she had a bigamous marriage with that husband, and that she should be deported. That court decision also recorded a collection of incomplete, dubious, and self-contradictory statements she had made to the authorities over the years.

In addition to noticing Ms. Alhuay's remarkable talent for bringing men to the altar, and her ability to avoid deportation for more than 20 years, there may be some lessons to be drawn from all this.

  1. Some people never leave well enough alone. My guess is that Ms. Alhuay would have never gotten into removal proceedings if she had not sought naturalization, but I cannot be sure of that.

  2. Had the government noticed, back in 1995, that she was seeking a green card while being a bigamous spouse, it could have saved itself, and the courts, more than a decade of grief.

  3. Her case, in one sense, is not unusual. Among the spouses we admitted, because of their marriages, in 2010 (292,544) fully 7,200 of them were "abused spouses" or, as DHS publications put it, a little more gently, "self-petitioning" ones. (For more on the number of visa-creating marriages see my recent blog on the subject.)

We noted in another earlier blog that USCIS was taking special precautions to make sure that a really tiny "self-petitioning" group – the abused parents and step-parents of U.S. citizens – were aware of their rights under the INA. In 2010 there were either 30 or 31 adjustments or admissions of such persons; DHS will not reveal which of those figures is correct for privacy reasons.

The November 7 issue of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper, carried an article on the Alhuay decision on pp.2653-2654. That article is not available on the web, but the 11th circuit decision is; for those using PACER, the courts' electronic reporting system, it can be seen here. It is case #10-15334 before the 11th circuit.