US sets up task forces to battle marriage fraud
published: Sunday | October 22, 2006
The Jamaica Gleaner
Last week, a Los Angeles-based television station aired that task forces that include federal agents have been established to battle marriage fraud, which it said rose by 54 per cent last year in the United States.
When contacted, a representative from the station told The Sunday Gleaner that task forces are already operational in Los Angeles and nine other states with plans afoot to push the total to a dozen. It was also revealed that a proposal is being examined to move the sentence under law from five years to 15 to 20 years.
Michael W. Cutler, fellow at the Centre for Immigration Studies and a former senior special agent of the now defunct Immigration and Naturalisation Service in New York, told The Sunday Gleaner that the clampdown may result in a longer than usual processing period for green card applications.
“I think that the result of it is that it makes things difficult for the honest, decent people. But, that is always the case; the good always suffers for the bad in more ways than one,” said Cutler, an immigration expert with more than 30 years experience. He added: “The fact that there is concern about (marriage) fraud makes the process more arduous than it should be if everybody played by the rules.”
This claim was corroborated by Dr. Steven Camarota, director of research at the Centre for Immigra-tion Studies, a privately-operated Washington-based think tank. “The likely impact is that they might undergo more scrutiny and wait longer,” he said.
While unable to provide statistics that would show what percentage of illegal marriages involved Carib-bean nationals, including Jamaicans, Mr. Cutler, who once had the task of uncovering fraudulent marriages and marriage rings, insisted that individuals from our region were definitely involved. “There have been Asian rings operating, people from Mexico, and people from the Caribbean,” he said.
Fern Whyte, information associate in the Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy in Kingston, told The Sunday Gleaner that the embassy was unable to furnish statistics on the number of green card requests on the basis of marriage it had received over the last five to 10 years.
Ms. Whyte also said that the embassy could not provide details on the approvals and denials of the requests.
However, the Embassy did provide information that showed that the US has increased its efforts to crack and dismantle marriage fraud rings and alleviate the threat they pose to its national security.