Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NY Times writes about The Waiting

The Times posted a front-page article today about the waits men have to go through if they look online for a foreign bride.

The article is headlined Law on Overseas Brides is Keeping Couples Apart, and it details the added layers of bureaucracy that were created earlier this year when President Bush signed the International Marriage Broker Act of 2006. In short, the law states that men must provide information to marriage agencies about their criminal records, and women, when interviewed for their visa, must be asked if they met their fiance through a marriage broker, if only so they can be told that if they find themselves in an abusive relationship, they can seek permanent residency status without having to stay with their husband, who otherwise would have been their only connection to a life in this country. The law aims to protect women from an abusive relationship, in part because the marriage agencies advertise "traditional women," often describing them as submissive to a man's desires. The thinking goes, when he takes her home and finds out this isn't the case, he'll be more prone to strike out in anger.

This, to me, seems a leap in a logic, kind of along the lines of if-you-view-pornography-you-will-commit-an-act-of-violence-against-women. What causes violence against women? Unmet expectations? If so, every relationship would be abusive. The law really seems to be making an assumption: that the character of men seeking a foreign bride is questionable, and therefore added protections are needed.

Newspaper articles usually cites the murder of two women from the Former Soviet Union as evidence for the need for legislation. But it seems possible to me that two murders is well inside the statistical norm for society as a whole. Thirty-seven thousand women enter the country each year on a fiancee visa, up to half of them women who met their American partners through an online match-making service. These mail-order brides account for no less than ten percent of all immigration by marriage to the country each year, resulting in no less than 4,000 or 5,000 new immigrants each year. That's according to the results of a study conducted in 1996, before the current surge in internet match-making. Just since 1999, as the Times states, there's been a four-fold increase in the number of women entering the country on a fiancee visa.

One thing the article doesn't cover is the fears of the men in search of an internet bride. Several have suggested to me that they're now at risk to wrongful accusations of abuse, as a woman can more speedily receive her Green Card if she claims abuse and turns her back on her relationship.

Me, I'm not sure how the separate-but-equal thing works in Washington D.C. any more, but I can't understand how you can require a certain group of Americans to do one thing, but not the others. If RussianBrides.com-Jerry must present a criminal record before marriage, I don't see why YahooPersonals.com-Don mustn't -- if not all American men, and for that matter American women too.

It's very of this country, and I can already see how it'll look in fifty years. The marriage will start with a divorce ceremony, the two sides negotiating and switching papers, making offers and counter-offers, hiring detectives to test the validity of the other side's word. Then, once the lawyers have been paid, everyone will go off to the city office, say I do, and then go home loathing each other and secretly pining for a new start.

Two marriage agencies are challenging the law in court.

4 Comments:

Consul-At-Arms said...

Good thoughts. I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/10/re-ny-times-writes-about-waiting.html

The IMBA definitely caused some delays in a number of cases that had to go back to DHS, but it does address some areas where Caveat Emptor really ought not be the law of the land.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am sure that this legislation will be abused and many men will find themselves accused of all kinds of things (Some deserve it and many will be exaggerated beyond belief) but the new law is more the n what you have portrayed here.

It is aimed at stopping trafficking in women also.

Some guys take multiple wives they stay togetherb for two-three years then divorce. The new law also places a strict limit on the number of fiance applications you can apply for.

Some guys get the girls out there on a trial basis to see who things develp over the first three months and send them back then get a new one.

I do not think the law is not too prohibitive and most certainly will not effect your marriage unless you have done time or been previously married. Besides you did not meet via an agency and have spent quaility time together and apart :)

I am all in favor of making it a little tougher a few hurdles to cross. Hopefully the Wait will not be as long and the process will cut through any doubts.

Finding a wife on a two week tour, whilst possible, is bound to be full of problems, not the least the guys lack of understanding of the Russian/Ukrainian culture.

Dating Agencies should be registered in the same way as Travel agencies are. Many make their money on the added extras not just the introduction.

Most wife hunters I have met are socially inept or are very wealthy and they want the young sexy bride for the second time around. There is no doubt about it money helps bridge the problems that you will face if your relationship is not built on true love.

The Two week tour is not like the two day tour of Gilligan's Island. One of the Guys you interviewed from Floida is still looking, back again this week, and still determined to find that wife. some people spend more time looking for a house or a car then they do looking to a life partner.

The Author said...

Anonymous,

You're absolutely right -- the new law does do more, and rightfully so. Used to be a guy would fill out applications for three or more fiancees at a time, and bring them over one right after the other. They'd look at it as a "free trial," the women reliant on them for everything, their relationship nothing more than demands for sex, and never would the guy think of marriage. (Some women, it should be noted, would also come over for an all-expenses-paid vacation, also never imagining marriage as a possibility.)

It's good that they've created a limit on the number of applications you can file. You shouldn't have the ability to bring over more than one a year -- about the length of time it takes to process the visa application anyway. But I do still have other problems with it, that I may go into in greater depth in my book, relating to how the bigger agencies are less affected by the law than the smaller shops. Also, the double standard it represents is still troubling. Relationships in America should be put to the same test, if that's what we want as a country.

Anonymous said...

They are all valid points. I personally support your approach, if you are in love then get married in Ukraine or in Russia. Do your home work spend time and get to know your bride to be before she leaves home.

By the way what is the latest update on your application? Will you be ravelling back to Russia to claim your prise or is it self delivery?

The suspense is killing us..