B.C. women say they are victims of 'marriage fraud'
Last Updated Thu, 08 Jun 2006 14:39:56 EDT
B.C. women who sponsored their husbands to come to Canada, and then quickly divorced, say they are victims of sham marriages.
They say they were duped by their husbands and want changes to the province's sponsorship default recovery program.
Under the project, any woman who sponsors her husband to come to Canada can be held financially responsible for him for up to 10 years.
Many of the divorced men in question are still in Canada and living on social assistance. The women say they are being forced to pay for it.
Nearly 200 people filled a town hall meeting in Burnaby Wednesday night to hear from women who say they are victims of marriage fraud.
The women described how their husbands, men from Asian countries, used them to gain access to Canada.
Shajila Singh say the wives shouldn't be held responsible for their new husbands, alleging the women were exploited.
Singh says she owes the province more than $27,000 after her ex-husband starting collecting welfare payments.
“I mean I have to deal with emotional abuse, I have to build up my self-esteem, and then financially be responsible for this individual who just took away my dreams,” she recounted. Singh says the province has placed a lien against her home, meaning the property is held against her debts.
Raj Chouhan, the New Democrat MLA who helped organize the meeting designed to create public awareness, says Singh's story is not unique.
“It's becoming quite big. We are hearing stories every day from people who are victims of this sham marriage arrangement,” Chouhan said.
Chouhan says government policy shouldn't make these women victims again.
The file might be difficult to settle easily because although provinces collect money from sponsors who have family members that use B.C.s social services, immigration laws are federal. B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal is responsible for the file. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday.