GOP Bill Aims to Block Visa Permits for Child Brides and Grooms

‘The committee’s eye-opening report shows the gruesome reality that people manipulate our immigration system to enter into child marriages…’

Report: America's Broken Immigration System Sanctions Thousands of Child Marriages

Guatemalan child bride/IMAGE: UNFPA via Youtube

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Republican senators introduced legislation Wednesday to change an immigration statute that currently lets thousands of adults obtain visas and green cards for their minor fiancés and spouses.

The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent spousal and fiancé immigration benefits if either of the parties is less than 18 years old.

Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, proposed the Protecting Children Through Eliminating Visa Loopholes Act in response to a report Johnson commissioned last year for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The January 2019 report found that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services accepted nearly 8,700 immigration applications from 2007 to 2017 in which either a U.S. adult acquired a visa for a foreign minor or a U.S. minor acquired a visa for a foreign adult.

About 4,750 visa recipients went on to receive green cards (lawful permanent residency) during the 10-year period.

“Child marriage, almost always between a male adult and a female minor, can rob young girls of their education, personal development, and physical and mental health,” Cotton said in a press release.

“Unfortunately, U.S. law currently grants immigration benefits to individuals seeking adult–minor unions. Our immigration laws shouldn’t be used to encourage child marriage, and our bill would put an end to this exploitative practice.”

In 95 percent of the applications, the minor party was a female.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“The committee’s eye-opening report shows the gruesome reality that people manipulate our immigration system to enter into child marriages,” Sensenbrenner said. “I’m proud to lead the effort in the House to stop the exploitation of children through our immigration laws and am grateful to Senator Johnson for his work uncovering this disturbing information.”