Houston ICE office not investigating sham marriages
Documents show that the Houston office of the federal agency charged with interior immigration enforcement has stopped investigating individual cases of "sham" marriages, which terrorists have used in the past to stay legally in the U.S.This is further evidence of the lack of seriousness in enforcing immigration laws. When it comes to imigration law, the rule of law is a sometimes thing.
"Due to our current goals, priorities and lack of resources, we will not be participating in conducting one-on-one marriage fraud investigations," Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Gus Meza wrote in an October 2004 e-mail obtained by The Washington Times, citing the direction of supervisory agents in Houston.
In another e-mail, an official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the bureau that grants visas, says ICE agents regularly decline to investigate 70 percent of fraud cases, including sham marriages, sent over by the fraud unit at USCIS.
Both federal agents and independent analysts say "sham marriages" are a common tool used by terrorists to remain in the United States, making them a national security issue.
A recent report for the Center for Immigration Studies by Janice L. Kephart, who was one of the staff members on the September 11 commission, found that of 20 terrorists she studied, 18 married U.S. citizens, 10 of whom entered "sham marriages."
Regardless of whether a person entered illegally or on a legal temporary basis, "marrying an American provides an entree toward a permanent legal status and eventual naturalization," she says in the report.
Gene Lowery, the assistant special agent in charge of marriage fraud at the Houston ICE office, didn't return a call for comment.