WASHINGTON: Thousands of requests by men originally from other countries, including Pakistan, to bring in child and adolescent brides to live in the United States were approved over the past decade, according to government data obtained by AP news agency. In one case, a 49-year-old man applied for admission for a 15-year-old girl.
The approvals are legal: the Immigration and Nationality Act does not set minimum age requirements. And in weighing petitions for spouses or fiancées, US Citizenship and Immigration Services goes by whether the marriage is legal in the home country and whether the marriage would be legal in the state where the petitioner lives.
But the data raises questions about whether the immigration system may be enabling forced marriage and about how US laws may be compounding the problem despite efforts to limit child and forced marriage. Marriage between adults and minors is not uncommon in the US, and most states allow children to marry with some restrictions.
There were more than 5,000 cases of adults petitioning on behalf of minors and nearly 3,000 examples of minors seeking to bring in older spouses or fiancés, according to the data requested by the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2017 and compiled into a report.
Some victims of forced marriage say the lure of a US passport combined with lax US marriage laws are partly fuelling the petitions.
“My passport ruined my life,” said Naila Amin, a dual citizen from Pakistan who grew up in New York City. She was forcibly married at 13 in Pakistan and applied for papers for her 26-year-old husband to come to the country.
“People die to come to America,” she said. “I was a passport to him. They all wanted him here, and that was the way to do it.”
Amin, now 29, said she was betrothed to her first cousin Tariq when she was just eight and he was 21. The petition was eventually terminated after she ran away.
She said the ordeal cost her a childhood. She was in and out of foster care and group homes, and it took a while to get her life on track.
“I was a child. I want to know: why weren’t any red flags raised? Whoever was processing this application, they don’t look at it? They don’t think?” she asked.
There is a two-step process for obtaining US immigration visas and green cards. Petitions are first considered by USCIS. If granted, they must be approved by the State Department. Overall, there were 3.5 million petitions received from budget years 2007 through 2017.
Over that period, there were 5,556 approvals for those seeking to bring in minor spouses or fiancées, and 2,926 approvals by minors seeking to bring in older spouses, according to the data. Additionally, there were 204 approvals of applications by minors seeking to bring in minor spouses.
Petitions can be filed by US citizens or permanent residents.
“It indicates a problem. It indicates a loophole that we need to close,” said Republican Sen Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
In nearly all the cases, the girls were the younger person in the relationship. In 149 instances, the adult was older than 40, and in 28 cases the adult was over 50, the committee found.
Among the examples: in 2011, immigration officials approved a 14-year-old’s petition for a 48-year-old spouse in Jamaica. A petition from a 71-year-old man was approved in 2013 for his 17-year-old wife in Guatemala.
There are no nationwide statistics on child marriage, but data from a few states suggests it is far from rare. State laws generally set 18 as the minimum age for marriage, yet every state allows exceptions.
Most states let 16- and 17-year-olds marry if they have parental consent, and several states including New York, Virginia and Maryland allow children under 16 to marry with court permission.
Top diplomats of S.Korea, U.S. hold phone talks ahead of Trump’s visit to Seoul
SEOUL: The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held phone talks ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Seoul later this month, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Monday.
During her visit to Russia on Sunday night (Moscow time), South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha talked on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Trump’s visit to Seoul and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry said in a statement.
Trump was scheduled to visit Seoul on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.
During the 15-minute dialogue, Kang and Pompeo shared the view that Trump’s trip to South Korea will be a crucial opportunity to discuss ways on the complete denuclearization of and the settlement of permanent peace on the peninsula.
Trump’s Seoul visit would come since the denuclearization talks between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States have been stalled after the second summit between top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and Trump, which ended with no agreement in late February in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
Kang and Pompeo agreed to continue close consultations on the peninsula issues, sharing the need for consultations on situations in the Middle East, including the recent attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
The South Korean foreigner minister has been in Moscow for talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
Boeing’s embattled chief faces tough crowd at Paris Air Show
PARIS: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg will have his work cut out for him at the Paris Air Show this week as he tries to reassure airlines and industry partners over the fate of its flagship 737 MAX plane, indefinitely grounded after two fatal crashes.
Aviation regulators meeting last month were unable to determine when the popular jet might again be allowed to fly, causing costly headaches for airlines worldwide.
“An air show is a good opportunity to connect with customers, suppliers and fellow aerospace manufacturers to strengthen our partnerships and drive industry safety,” Muilenburg posted on Twitter over the weekend.
He has already apologised and vowed to come up with a fix for the 737 MAX’s automated anti-stall system, blamed for an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March and an Indonesian Lion Air crash in October, which together claimed 346 lives.
But in comments to journalists later Sunday he acknowledged the work they still had to do.
“We have work to do to win and regain the trust of the public,” said Muilenburg.
“We come to this salon focussed on safety. We come with a sense of humility and learning, still confident in our market — but it’s a humble confidence.”
But reports that US safety regulators may have let Boeing engineers self-certify some of the plane’s equipment have battered confidence in the company.
“It’s had a very clear impact on Boeing’s brand and reputation,” said Pascal Fabre at the consulting firm Alix Partners.
The crisis has also rattled pilots as well as national aviation regulators who worry about a lack of sufficient oversight at the American heavyweight.
And on the financial front, it could provide an opening for archrival Airbus to win over new customers for its own A320 family of single-aisle jets, which constitute by far the biggest share of airlines’ fleets.
Trump to launch 2020 campaign in retiree-friendly Florida
WASHINGTON: Ronald, Don and John are living the good life in this haven of Republican retirees in Florida, a city designed for the aging, with paths everywhere for golf carts and where residents have plenty of time to campaign for their president, Donald Trump.
The Villages is a pleasant, immaculately clean, fast-growing retirement town in central Florida. The average age of its 75,000 inhabitants is 71. Some two-thirds are Republican.
One afternoon not long ago five retirees all wearing Trump pins reviewed lists of recent arrivals in the city in order to send them invitations to join Republican-affiliated clubs.
An hour’s drive to the south, in Orlando, the US president will be formally launching his re-election campaign on Tuesday.
“We’re very proud,” Ronald McMahan, vice president of one of the clubs,said. “We’re proud to be Republicans, we’re proud to be with other Republicans and very proud that Mr. Trump has chosen to open his campaign here.”
Trump’s choice of Florida was no accident. If he is to win a second term in the White House in 2020, he will have to win in Florida again.
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