Change US law to not recognize marriages between adults and children.

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That’s right, the US In the last decade have allowed Adult men to marry young girls in foreign countries, and they have allowed them to bring these child brides to the US LEGALLY. They have also allowed children to be married to foreign adults and allowed the children to legally petition for them to be brought to states. In one case, a 49-year-old man applied for admission for a 15-year-old girl.

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 finances, according to the data requested by the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2017 and compiled into a report.

It is disgusting that our nation is allowing this to happen. First, because we are condoning the sexual abuse of children, but also because it is often against their will. Many of the countries that are taking part in these child marriages are countries where women and girls are treated like property and are married off by their family without their permission. It has lead to legal residents importing child brides, forced by their parents.

Not only that, groups in the US that come from the same culture that have forced their young children to marry adults overseas. Some victims of forced marriage say the lure of a US passport combined with lax US marriage laws are partly fueling the petitions.

An example of one such victim in Naila Amin who was taken to Pakistan by her parents and forcibly married at age 13. She was then forced petition for her 26-year-old husband to come to the country. “People die to come to America,” (and) “I was a passport to him. They all wanted him here and that was the way to do it.”

Basically, OUR LAWS, as they stand now allowed this 13-year-old girl and thousands like her to be victimized. Not only are we legally recognizing marriages that would not be recognized by state laws in any other way, but we have actually created an incentive to force MORE children into the marriage with adults as a way to circumvent our immigration process.

Naila Amin put it well when she said this: “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?” I think the US Congress owes her an explanation. I think they owe justice. Amin is 29 years old, but she was originally betrothed to her first cousin Tariq when she was just 8 and he was 21. She lucky was able to escape the marriage, not because the state protected her, but because she ran away from her family. 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. All of this was a miscarriage of justice that if we do nothing, we allow to happen again, and again.

These laws need to change. Currently, The Immigration and Nationality Act does not set minimum age requirements. And in weighing petitions for spouses or fiancees, US Citizenship and Immigration Services goes by whether the marriage is legal in the home country and then whether the marriage would be legal in the state where the petitioner lives. The need to change NOW. I would like all of you sign this petition, tell our member of Congress to change these laws. Also contact your congressman and let them know that you care about this issue. I encourage you to call them and tell them that the US government should not be allowing or facilitating child marriages, forced or otherwise.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told the AP. “It indicates a problem. It indicates a loophole that we need to close,”

Additionally, In nearly all the over 8000 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. Also, Among the examples: In 2011, immigration officials approved a 14-year-old’s petition for a 48-year-old spouse in Jamaica, And A petition from a 71-year-old man was approved in 2013 for his 17-year-old wife in Guatemala. Cut and dry, this is state-sanctioned child abuse and a mockery of our immigration law.

One final note is that we also have a problem of child marriage among Americans. 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.

Fraidy Reiss, who campaigns against coerced marriage as head of a group called Unchained at Last, researched data from her home state of New Jersey. She determined that nearly 4,000 minors, mostly girls, were married in the state from 1995 to 2012, including 178 who were under 15. “This is a problem both domestically and in terms of immigration,” she said. It is unethical for our laws to allow this. I encourage you all to speak out and take action to stop this from happening.