Caveat Emptor
Caveat Emptor
by: John Sampson

Much has been written on this site about the subject revolving around marriage and divorce involving "international marriages". Many on this website believe in the fundamental goodness of international marriages. Many have either openly questioned my stance on international marriages, or perhaps, have harbored a quiet resentment.  Some are even openly hostile to the mere suggestion that immigration marriage fraud actually exists. Ask yourself this question. If there truly was no fraud, or it was at worst, an isolated instance, why is it that I have had more than 1,700 hits on my website since I started the site four months ago, why have I had over 200 inquiries as to my services, and why is it, I've had more than 20 paying clients in the four and a half months I've been in business?

The reality is that immigration marriage fraud exists, and the numbers are not insignificant. And the particularly nasty and vile subset of immigration marriage fraud, VAWA fraud, or false allegations of domestic violence in order to get a green card without having to remain married to "the stupid American" for two years, is almost impossible to track due to the built in "star chamber" secrecy provisions of VAWA. 

Allow me to clear the air, so to speak. Although the statistics kept by the former USINS indicated that in the mid 1980's, 30% of all marriage based immigrant visas were issued based upon a fraudulent marriage, the reality is that 70% were not. So 7 out of 10 "international marriages" were legitimate, or at least, passed the "smell test" that the then INS instituted.

The current statistics on this issue are hard to come by since there is a subset of immigration marriage fraud cases that involve false allegations of domestic violence.  With VAWA claims being cloaked in total secrecy, ostensibly to protect the "victim", USCIS refuses to disclose even the raw numbers as to how many I-360 self petitions based upon allegations of domestic violence are filed each year.  As a result, an accurate statistical analysis is impossible to come by. And that, in my opinion, is by design.

The only way one can get an idea is to look at the annual statistics published by USCIS for fiscal year 2007, which are the most recent. Of the almost 500,000 immigrant visas afforded to immediate relatives of United States citizens, of which almost 300,000 were based upon marriages to US citizens,  roughly 3,700 were afforded immigrant visas as "Spouses, self petitioning" and carried the immigrant visa classification of IB-1 or IB-6. It is PRESUMED that the "B" stands for "battered".  However, we don't know for sure. The IB immigrant classification is not listed, at least not as the battered spouse of a US citizen. All attempts to GOOGLE Immigrant Visa Classifications, Immigrant Visa IB-1 or IB-6, fails to generate any definitive information about this "mysterious" visa classification. 

Even more disconcerting, the totals of visas allocated to "Battered Spouses and Children (Violence Against Women Act) subject to 4,000 limit, visa classification Z-14", under the provisions of Cancellation of Removal or COR,  are NOT DISCLOSED. Why? Because USCIS states:  "Data WITHHELD to limit disclosure".  In short, USCIS isn't talking.  They have the data. They simply don't want to release it. WHY? A raw number of say, 4,000, does not put one single battered woman at risk. The release of the number of visas granted to battered spouses and children of US citizens under VAWA would not release a single name, a single address, or a single phone number. The only rational reason why USCIS is refusing to release a raw number is that by releasing it, it may result in a public backlash. My belief is that the number is so high, that it is probably in violation of the 4,000 cap limit imposed on all Cancellation of Removal cases. With 3,059 Cancellation of Removal grants being given to non battered spouses and children of US citizens, it would mean that if the cap was followed, only 941 cases could be granted. My guess? The number is much higher and therefore, in violation of federal law.

In fact, when asked, USCIS will deny that there is any fraud whatsoever in the VAWA program. That simple statement should be of concern to every person who reads this article or hears that claim. In a system that is so rife with fraud, so much so that USCIS now has a specialized unit, Fraud Detection and National Security, in each of their District Offices throughout the US and in several American Consulates abroad, it defies logic to state that there is no fraud in the VAWA program.

To stubbornly deny that there is any fraud in the VAWA program while there is rampant fraud in every other program relating to immigration benefits, thereby requiring the formation of a specific unit within USCIS to combat this rampant fraud, is a clear indication of politics and social agendas influencing the administration of the VAWA program and "the fix is in".  

The inescapable facts and the inconvenient truth is that there IS fraud in the VAWA program and there is a huge motivation for an alien spouse of a US citizen to deliberately lie and falsely allege domestic violence against their US citizen spouse. The main incentive is when an alien spouse, who has fraudulently induced a US citizen to marry them based upon promises and pronouncements of love and devotion that are simply not true,  wants to cover up the evidence of her crime and wishes to abandon the relationship she has with her US citizen "spouse". She want no scrutiny of her actions or her motivations whatsoever. And the government of the United States of America, which is supposed to serve and protect its citizens, obliges the alien and accepts, at face value, any and all allegations, and prohibits the US citizen from even knowing these allegations have been made against him, much less allow him "his day in court".

When the smoke clears, here's what happens. The alien gets her green card, no questions asked, oftentimes with the apologies of the United States government for her inconvenience and the fact that she has been "victimized", even if the facts don't support her allegations. In many cases, she remarries her foreign "ex spouse" and then petitions for him once she becomes a US citizen.

The US citizen? He has to hire a criminal defense attorney in order to defend on baseless allegations of domestic violence.  He is presumed guilty, not innocent like the Constitution alleges. He is denied the fundamental provisions of due process. He cannot confront his accuser. And he certainly does not receive equal protection under the law. The Constitution, in these cases, simply ceases to exist in the name of "social justice" and expediency. After all, the mantra of those who are vehement supporters of VAWA believe that it is better that a thousand innocent men languish in prison lest one POSSIBLY guilty man be set free.  The cost to the US citizen is enormous. Legal fees can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, he is branded an abuser simply on the say so of his accuser whom he cannot confront lest she be "victimized" again. As one woman wrote on another website, he should simply "Be a man".  In other words, "If rape is inevitable, then lie back and try and enjoy it". 

If he is somehow convicted, despite there being no evidence against him other than the uncorroborated testimony of the so called "victim", he may languish in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Even if there are no criminal charges, and "only" a restraining order is filed against him, his life is turned upside down. If he is a licensed professional, such as a doctor, nurse, attorney, pilot, or is in law enforcement or the military, or he is a civilian contractor working in the defense industry and has a security clearance, he gets to lose his job and his license. If the restraining order becomes permanent, he loses his Second Amendment rights, forever. He can never legally possess or purchase any firearm, courtesy of the Lautenberg Amendment. If he has a security clearance, he loses that as well, right along with his job. If he's in law enforcement, he's fired. If he's in the military, he received a bad conduct discharge, loses his veteran's benefits, and is disgraced.

Then comes the divorce. If he is charged with domestic violence, he is held in jail without bond until he can be brought before a judge who sets bail. Automatically, a restraining order is issued. He cannot go back to his own home. While this is going on, the "wife" cleans out the bank account, takes all of the valuable possessions, to include cars, electronics, and what not, and the police, who were eager to throw "the bum" into jail in the first place, thereby setting the stage for this rip off, don't get involved citing the fact that this is a "civil matter" for the courts to decide.

In some states, a woman who entered into a sham marriage, is entitled to half of her "husbands" assets. Even if she was "married" to him for just one day.

And if that wasn't enough, the final straw, the insult to all of the injury, is that if the alien ever goes on any means tested public assistance, the US citizen who was defrauded into marrying her, will get the bill from the government for that public assistance. In 1996, the "new and improved" "Enforceable Affidavit of Support, Form I-864" was introduced. The purpose was to stem the amount of taxpayer dollars that were going to recently arrived immigrants, many of them from, you guessed it, the Former Soviet Union, who were receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments and other public assistance without ever having paid into the "system".  Since its inception, I have yet to hear of one single instance in which the government went after an alien's sponsor for reimbursement of public assistance payments made to a recently arrived immigrant.

However, word on the street is that the current Administration is about to change that. And the first group to feel the government's wrath? US citizen spouses of aliens who have gone on public assistance after being "divorced".

To put a point on this, there was a case, Stump v Stump, in Indiana, where the US citizen husband was ordered to pay the Russian wife spousal maintenance equal to 125% of the federal income poverty guidelines, indefinitely. The figure was arrived at from the Enforceable Affidavit of Support the US citizen filed on behalf of his Russian wife.

The net effect of all of this is legalized extortion, legalized robbery, legalized fraud, and not one single person in the local, state, or federal government, has the balls to investigate the facts, much less do anything about it, lest they be "politically incorrect".

So, the next time you hear someone extol the merits of marrying a woman from another country, regardless of which country that may be, telling you that all these stories of abuse and such are made up or are the rare anomaly, ask yourself: "If I do seek a foreign bride, what are my chances of becoming a victim?" The odds, as they now exist, are one in three point five. And there is virtually nothing you can do to protect yourself from this, except to "shop American".  If you chose to venture outside the US in search of your life's soul mate, I leave you with a Latin legal phrase. Caveat Emptor.  Translated? "Buyer beware".

About the author

John Sampson currently works as a private investigator and consultant specializing in immigration fraud, marriage fraud, false accusations of domestic violence, and alleged sexual assault. He operates CSI Consulting and Investigations.

He retired in August 2008 at the mandatory age of 57 from DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after 27 years of service as an immigration enforcement officer with ICE and the legacy agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), from which ICE evolved.  With INS and  ICE he specialized in marriage fraud cases and, more recently, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) fraud cases in which foreign nationals falsely accuse American citizens of domestic violence in order to gain an immigration benefit.

With ICE he also liaised with foreign embassies and consulates, other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and escorted aliens who were violent, mentally unstable, or wanted by their home countries, back to their country of origin.

Duties included locating, apprehending, and removing aliens who were illegally in the United States, were under a final order of removal, and who had absconded and were considered fugitives. As part of that effort Sampson worked for six years with the Metro Fugitive Task Force (MFTF) in Denver, Colorado. The MFTF was comprised of members of the FBI, Denver Police Department, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, US Marshals Service, Division of Adult Parole for CDOC, and other agencies where he acted as the immigration liaison with these and other agencies for immigration related matters.

In connection with these duties he routinely testified before grand juries and in court proceedings (criminal, civil, and administrative) and prepared detailed reports of investigation, as well as memorandums of referral to the United States Attorney's Office.

He is recognized as an expert witness by the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), the immigration court in Denver, Colorado, in the issuance of Notices to Appear (the charging document commencing deportation proceedings), Administrative Warrants of Arrest for Aliens, and the policies surrounding custody determinations for aliens being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  He has also been recognized as an expert witness by the Supreme Court of the State of New York and in New York County (Manhattan), and in General Sessions Court in the City and County of Denver, Colorado relating to the issue of immigration marriage fraud and the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Collateral duties during his law enforcement career included: Juvenile Coordinator for a four state region over a five plus year period; from 1996 until his retirement he was Primary Law Instructor after the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act took effect.  He was responsible for teaching initial courses and refresher courses in that law to all enforcement and adjudicative personnel in a three state area. He also taught as an advanced instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Glynco, Georgia) and Artesia, New Mexico) and was class coordinator for two journeyman-training courses. In addition he was the Cuban Liaison Officer and the CCIC coordinator for the entire district office

During his 27-year career in federal law enforcement, Sampson held numerous positions within ICE and the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)  including: Immigration Inspector, Detention Officer, Detention Enforcement Officer, Legalization Officer, Criminal Investigator, and Deportation Officer from June of 1991 to August 2008 in Denver, Colorado. During his long career in federal law enforcement he worked in three district offices: New York, New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Denver, Colorado.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Long island University and graduated Cum Laude in 1975. Languages include English, Spanish, and Greek.

John Sampson is a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), and was Chief Union Shop Steward for Local 3806, American Federation of Government Employees. He is also a veteran of the United States Coast Guard Reserve and United States Naval Reserve.

Hobbies include photography and computers. In his spare time he drag races at Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colorado.
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