An Emerging Victim Class: Citizens Hurt by Immigration/Marriage Fraud

By David North on October 29, 2015

I am starting to realize that there is class of citizens who have been hurt by immigration-related marriage fraud — a group that, in many cases, has other disadvantages as well.

To put it another way, the citizens who have been bamboozled into marriage by wily and often attractive alien members of the other sex are not always the strongest, sharpest people, or the most marriageable ones. They should be regarded as victims, just like those hurt by financial skullduggery. But there seem to be no helping agencies for this unfortunate group of citizens and, unlike in Canada, no official recognition of their problems.

Canada has created a government video warning Canadian
citizens of the dangers of immigration/marriage fraud.

From time to time I write on this subject, and as a result every other week or so I get another email from a citizen who has been enticed into a marriage to an alien, not recognizing that the alien is interested in the marriage only as a path to legal status in the United States. These cases are heart-wrenching because they are worse than monetary swindles; they create intense emotional damage and, usually, large financial costs to the citizen as well.

As I have suggested before, there are several different kinds of immigration/marriage fraud. There is the relatively common, marriage-for-hire scenario in which the citizen is paid to marry the alien. These could be called class C cases, for cash; in these instances, both the citizen and the alien are breaking the law, but no one's emotions are involved. That is not my topic today.

There are two other classes, involving marriage swindlers, but no abuse charge in one, let's call it Class D-1, and in the other marriage swindlers charging (usually falsely) abuse, which we will call Class D-2, with D standing for deception.

In D-1 cases, the alien marries the citizen, gets his or her green card — after a two-year waiting period — and then abandons the marriage, usually causing heartache. This can happen to both male and female citizens.

D-2 cases happen more quickly and usually involve male citizens. After the alien is in the United States and has married the citizen, she charges him with abuse and then secures what USCIS calls a self-petitioning green card under the Violence Against Women Act. She gets the card as someone who has been abused by a citizen spouse.

Both type D cases involve the initial swindle and the conning of the citizen by the alien; sometimes the alien is here in either a valid nonimmigrant status or as an illegal; sometimes the alien is overseas. The Internet, unfortunately, helps facilitate these schemes.

My information comes from the citizens and I have no contact with the aliens. What follows is a summary of anecdotes based on what the citizens say — so it is more an impressionist sketch than a photograph. In most cases I have just the citizen's word for it, but in some instances I have been able to find public records (PRs) that support what they say.

One or more of the deceived citizens I have heard from have the following characteristics:

  • Though native born, he is barely literate;
  • She is probably literate in her own language, but is not in English;
  • He lives in a trailer park, in a unit he does not own (PR);
  • She lived in Section 8 (subsidized) housing, but apparently lost it when she filled out a form saying she could support her alien husband;
  • In several cases, the male citizen was at least 20 years older than his alien partner;
  • She suffered from deep depression and other mental problems (PR);
  • She was so oblivious of immigration law that she did not realize that the alien would secure legal status through marriage;
  • Many of them either have no legal counsel or third-class lawyers;
  • She was receiving SSI;
  • Several had received "do not contact" court orders protecting their former alien spouses;
  • She was twice in the bankruptcy courts (PR);
  • Some of them are still in love with their former partners and hence have not taken appropriate action against them;
  • She is a single mother of four children;
  • In many instances, the alien had a real spouse, and sometimes a real spouse and children, in the homeland;
  • In several cases the male citizen was paying alimony to the alien woman;
  • Many of the citizens, though often of limited means, spent more money than they could afford on their new partners; and, in one particularly grim case,
  • He fell in love with a woman on the Internet, went to her nation to woo her, found that the individual was a male wanting sex-change surgery, which the citizen funded; he subsequently married her and then she filed for "abuse by a citizen".

So there is a bit of class angle here, with some of the least advantaged of citizens being misled by aliens. Though I have not seen both partners, I would suspect that the alien is better looking than the citizen in most cases, and clearly more assertive.

Unfortunately judges too often identify with the alien woman, rather than the citizen man, and I have a very strong impression that USCIS is not interested in even interviewing the male citizen when the alien woman claims abuse.

Canada, a nation that is often a step or two ahead of us, has created a government video warning Canadian citizens of the dangers of immigration/marriage fraud, which can be seen here.

I have seen nothing comparable from our government.