Marriage Fraud, and an Awkward Public Policy Question

By David North on February 23, 2018

There are two kinds of immigration-related marriage fraud.

In both types, ineligible people secure green cards through fraud. In both types there is an extraneous — even criminal — addition to the legal population of the United States.

In one type, no individual citizen suffers (or suffers much) from the fraud.

In the other type, numerous individuals, often vulnerable ones, suffer intense personal pain, substantial financial losses, and a loss of reputation (as they have been, often falsely, charged with abusing an alien spouse).

So in which of those two is the Department of Homeland Security likely to pursue the fraudster? The one that creates real pain for individual citizens, or the one that does not?

In this administration, as in previous ones, the answer is that the government is much more likely to pursue the kind of fraud that causes little pain to citizens, while doing nothing, or virtually nothing, about the pain-creating fraud.

What is going on here?

The two types of immigration-related marriage have different M.O.s.

In the first, where little pain is inflicted on an individual citizen, the alien — usually through an intermediary — pays a citizen to go through with a paper marriage that can produce a green card for the alien. Sometimes the intermediary has handled a dozen or more such cases.

In the second type, and this is usually a one-on-one situation, the alien (often a young or young-ish woman) convinces a citizen (often an older male) to marry her. As soon as this happens the alien then concocts a tale of physical or mental abuse, goes to DHS as a "self-petitioning" immediate relative, and then without DHS giving the citizen a chance to testify, the interim green card is granted. For more on the subject, see this report on one of the rare legislative hearings on this problem.

It should be noted, of course, that some of these self-petitioning spouses have legitimate cases of abuse.

DHS apparently does not approach this subject with the citizen-pain variable in mind. It has set its priorities along managerial lines — let's spend our resources going after the aliens engaged in marriage bribes rather than those in the married/alleged abuse category, on the dual grounds that the agency can break more cases at a lower unit cost that way, and that the agency will not take on some of the burdens that divorce courts have accepted over the years. (The burden is that of figuring out the facts when the estranged spouses disagree with each other.)

It is, among other things, easier to prove that money changed hands and that the paper marriage was just that than it is to sort out the facts in an alleged abuse case.

I was reminded of all this when ICE issued a press release recently on how a Dallas lawyer, Bilal Ahmed Khaleeg, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

This was a marriage-bribe case in which the bribe was only $745, and Khaleeg played the middleman. It was, of course, a good thing that he was indicted.

It would be useful, however, if DHS broke one or more of the phony abuse cases, secured jail sentences and deportations for the aliens concerned, and then publicized these results extensively in the alien's home country or countries.

But that would take a real effort.