Ghosts of Abusers Past Can Give Legal Status to Some Aliens

By David North on June 23, 2015

The abusing spouse (probably the husband) is dead and has been for nearly two years.

The abused spouse is not a legal U.S. resident, but she can claim green card status because of the abuse she suffered at his hands even though it would be impossible, by definition, for the abuse to happen again.

This highly specialized, not totally rational piece of our immigration policy is not, in this case, an invention of the USCIS. Instead, it was produced by Congress.

It comes from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Cuban Adjustment Act. An interim policy memorandum (PM-602-0110) has just emerged from USCIS dealing with this matter.

The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 was the basis for the well known wet-foot, dry-foot policy that guarantees legal status for Cuban illegals if they can set foot on U.S. soil and the leaning-over-backwards VAWA provisions for illegal alien women with abusive husbands or, in some cases, "allegedly abusing" spouses.

The general VAWA provisions permit an alien woman, whatever her legal status here, to go to the government and claim legal status because a citizen or green card spouse abused her. (The law also applies to abused husbands, but that's a rarity.) Typically, the husband is not even interviewed in connection with these petitions, as we have reported in the past. But in these non-Cuban cases the government could check further because the alleged abuser is alive and in the United States.

Under these new rules for illegal alien women, they can apply for a green card even if the abuser is dead and has been for less than two years.

There are some restrictions to this new, highly specialized amnesty. The abuser, dead or alive, has to be a "qualifying Cuban principal" (i.e., a dry-foot migrant), there has to have been a divorce or an annulment, and the abused spouse has to claim that she lived with him.

Spousal abuse should not be tolerated. Such abusers should be sent to jail and, if they are aliens, deported. There is no reason, generally, to reward the abused wife with legal status in the United States, and it is particularly inappropriate to do so when the male in question can no longer hurt her or testify on the matter.

This provision is just another example of the extremes that the Congress and the administration go to in order to maximize migration to the United States.

It fits in the same category as the provision in the law (rarely used) that allows abused step-parents of U.S. citizens to claim green cards because of abuse by their step children as we reported a couple of years ago. This can be the case even though the alleged abuse took place outside the United States.