Thousands of child bride requests approved by the US over last decade

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According to a report from the Associated Press, the US government approved thousands of requests for men to bring child and adolescent brides into the country over the last decade. Of the cases involving minors, "two minors whose petitions were approved were 13 years old, 38 were 14 years old, 269 were 15 years old, 1,768 were 16 years old, and the remaining 6,609 were 17 years old".

The are no set minimum age requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act. and as for spouse and fiancees petitions, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines their application decisions based on whether the marriage in question is legal in the country of origin, and if it would be legal in the state where the petition resides.

OH lawmakers were recently pressured to alter the state's law on child marriage after a local newspaper investigation revealed that dozens of underage teens had been married to adults in OH between 2000 and 2015.

Of the 3.5 million petitions, the State Department gave their seal of approval to 5,556 cases that detailed applicants, 149 of whom were aged 40 and older, wanting to bring their minor spouses or fiancées stateside. In nearly every case, the younger person in the relationship was female.

Both the State Department and USCIS are involved in the approval process for getting immigration visas and green cards. The data also revealed 4,749 minor spouses or fiancees had received USA green cards in that time period.

The United States claims to be a strong opponent of child marriage around the world. "They all wanted him here, and that was the way to do it". The Dayton Daily News brought light to this issue in 2017, prompting Governor John Kasich to sign a bill on Monday that raises the state's legal minimum age for girls to 18.

"I know my potential could have been so much more", she said. She was in and out of foster care and group homes, and it took a while to get her life on track. "They don't think?" Amin asked.

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In one case from 2011, a 14-year-old residing in the US requested that the State Department allow a 48-year-old spouse to enter the country from Jamaica.

Reiss, who says she was forced into an abusive marriage by her Orthodox Jewish family when she was 19, said that often cases of child marriage via parental consent involve coercion, with a girl forced to marry against her will.

The data was requested in 2017 by Johnson and then-Missouri Sen.

"[These minors] are subjected to a lifetime of domestic servitude and rape", she told the AP. "And the government is not only complicit; they're stamping this and saying: Go ahead".

Lawmakers on the Senate homeland security and governmental reform committee are now calling for reforms to prevent people from getting immigration benefits that facilitate child marriages.

USCIS created a flagging system when a minor spouse or fiance is detected. Pakistan is the second most frequent country from which such requests are filed.

The highest percentage of requests came from Middle Eastern nationals, with the majority of requests coming from Mexico, followed by Pakistan, Jordan, the Dominican Republic and Yemen.

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