The Virginia Legislature took an important step toward reducing green card-producing, abusive marriages of young female citizens — and the Washington Post missed the migration point completely in a July 3 article about the legislation.
Encouraged by a tiny Virginia lobbying group, both parties in the GOP-controlled state legislature set the minimum age for marriage at 18 under most circumstances, and at 16 with a court order. Previously the minimum age was "13 or younger ... if she had parental consent and was pregnant", according to the Post.
While there were other serious problems with Virginia's earlier laws on the age of marriage, the major issue, in my mind at least, was that older — sometimes decades older — alien males were marrying young citizen girls of the same ethnic background, with the young women often being forced into loveless marriages by families deeply tied to the old country and old world ways. The alien men then secured green cards they could not have possibly secured in any other way. The newspaper is silent on this matter.
And these marriages were not forced on young women of, say, Finnish or Irish descent, it usually happened to those from Asian and/or Muslim backgrounds. Again, no reporting on that variable.
These marriages also tended to pull young women deeper into old world cultures, rather than allowing them to move toward more modern ways. While it is totally politically incorrect to say so, such marriages tend to make integration of migrant communities less likely to occur. This is, by the way much, much more of a problem for women than men. Some 90 percent of the underage marriages involve young women.
Do such young women finish high school, much less college? Do they go to work? No, they have more babies, and more of them early, and thus are kept out of integrating institutions such as higher education and the workplace. The Post report underlines the first part of the last sentence, while ignoring its implications:
"When children get married," Smoot said, "they are 50 percent less likely to finish high school, four times less likely to go to college and more likely to have children sooner and more closely spaced than people who marry as adults."
The person quoted is Jeanne Smoot, the senior counsel of the Falls Church-based Tahirih Justice Center, a research and lobbying group that is perhaps the nation's leading opponent of forced marriages, something that happens much more often in families of recent migrants than in the population as a whole. (Tahirih is a woman's name in Farsi.)
I have not written about Tahirih in a couple of years, and when I looked at a 2014 blog post on their efforts vis-a-vis forced marriages, I noted that the organization, while worried about the consequences of these non-voluntary linkages, did not call for changes in either federal or state legislation at that time; rather it focused on efforts to educate older males and younger women about these matters. (I wrote at the time that it was like an effort to reduce horse thefts by talking gently to the thieves and encouraging the horses not to get caught.)
Apparently Tahirih has evolved its position, at least about the statutory minimum age for marriage. It apparently played a major role in getting the legislators to lift the marriage age.
The U.S. government, with its soft approach to migration of all kinds, has not changed its "turn a blind eye" posture in recent years on these forced marriages. This is in sharp contrast to the alert actions of the British and Australian governments. These governments know that forced marriages are less likely to occur if the women are older.
If a person in the United States (read teenage woman) is old enough to be married under state law, she is old enough to marry the alien male of (perhaps her family's) choice. If the alien, having secured first his conditional and then his permanent green card in this manner, tires of his now-grown bride, he can divorce her and be quite sure that he will not be deported for his actions.
The Post's ideology, of course, prevented the discussion of such things, and Tahirih may not have mentioned it either.