Fraudulent Immigrant Marriage…What’s Going Unnoticed?

FREDERICK, MD, June 21, 2012  — Fast and Furious is no longer a trending topic pertaining to Vin Diesel, but more so to Eric Holder. Immigration fraud becomes more and more prevalent as Holder is awaiting congress’ decision on whether or not to be held in contempt. It is a scandal such as the Fast and Furious gun running scandal that takes the nation’s gaze away from the real immigration problems. While it is important our country be aware of problems pertaining to immigrants coming into the US, it is pertinent to focus on the foreign nationals already here.

Immigration marriage fraud is becoming a larger and larger problem each day. With the millions of foreign nationals desperate to enter into the United States, the chances of being part of a marriage scam have increased immensely. Further, in 2009 there were reports of 227,000 marriages between US citizens and immigrants, all resulting in green cards. In 2012, this number increased to upwards of 400,000 with an estimate of anywhere between 5-30% to be fraudulent. Officers interviewed by David Seminara say, “Whatever the actual percentage, tens of thousands of people get married each year solely for the purpose of immigration to the United States.”

In 2011, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired and has been in the process of reauthorization. When VAWA was created in 1994, during Clinton’s presidency, provisions were made providing benefits to abused foreign nationals and allowing them to self-petition (I-360) for lawful permanent residency (LPR). The provision of this law was made when VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 with the Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act of 2000. This provision created the U visa for foreign national victims of crimes, such as domestic abuse. After the second reauthorization in 2005, protections and expanded eligibility for abused foreign nationals was added under VAWA.

Under these new necessities, VAWA has appointed 60 trained officers at the Vermont Service Center, in St. Albans, to be exclusively responsible for handling I-360 self-petitions. These “self-petitions” permit immigrants who are seeking to escape abusive relationships to apply for lawful US status, without the aid of sponsors.

The outcome of this service center is one of the many reasons VAWA is delayed in its reauthorization process. Currently, any immigrants claiming domestic violence are immediately admitted into the Vermont Service Center. It is the center’s job to determine if the abuse claim is fraudulent or actual domestic violence. Unfortunately, unlike the typical US court system, the Vermont Service Center has an absence of due process. This being said, while the service center is meant to investigate the claim; interviews, testimonies, and evidence is not permitted.

It is under the VAWA provisions previously made that third party vendors are unable to penetrate the walls of the Vermont Service Center, causing the case to be completely based off the word of the immigrant. This provision has caused the system to become vulnerable by providing a loophole for immigrants seeking legal status.

In attempts to contradict this loophole and reduce fraudulent claims, the House has proposed that these petitions should be handled by local service centers. Local centers will also support the proper conduction of interviews as well as supervising the care victims receive. Further, the house bill would require investigators to conduct face-to-face interviews with the accused as well as the petitioner, in addition to gathering other evidence supporting their claim.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., responds to the house’s proposal by stating, “There is no sound managerial reason to break up the competent, specially-trained professional operation at the Citizenship and Immigration Services Vermont Service Center in St. Albans,” Sanders continues this statement, “The attempt to change a system that works well is petty partisanship even by the low standards of the House Republicans.”

The senate argues that any contact with the “abuser,” pertaining to the victim’s plans or whereabouts, could potentially put the victim at risk for further injury through abuse. Additionally, keeping investigators in Vermont would be ideal based on the special training they possess concerning domestic violence and fraud recognition. While the Vermont investigators are not permitted to conduct face-to-face interviews with the victims, there is frequently evidence or guarantee from law enforcement officials that contribute to the decision making process.

SAVE: Stop Abuse and Violent Environments

Congressional Research Service: Immigration Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act

Center for Immigration Studies

The American Spectator: Fast and Furious Breeds Contempt

Voice of American Immigration Fraud

The Voice of Immigration Fraud gives guidance to those that have been victimized by deceptive foreign spouses, a broken immigration system, and an unfair judicial system.