Doubly Grubby Marriage Fraud, in Slow Motion, Eventually Noticed by DHS

Marriage fraud is always a grubby affair, and our government is often slow to recognize it, but yesterday a doubly grubby bit of sequential marriage fraud, played out in slow-motion, led to an immigration fraud conviction in federal district court in Maine.

The principals are Margaret Mwihaki Kimani, an illegal alien from Kenya and a persistent seeker of legal status, and DH, an unidentified U.S. citizen from Lewiston, Maine.

According to a report in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News and the underlying federal grand jury indictment, Ms. Kimani came to the U.S., probably in 2001, on a tourist visa and stayed after it expired on February 3, 2002. She started her illegal status on that date, more than 11 years ago.

Then a resident of Springfield, Mass., she paid a co-conspirator who located a citizen for her (the aforementioned DH) to marry in a sham ceremony, so that she could obtain legal status. The two of them obtained a marriage license in Lewiston, Maine, on December 30, 2003, and shortly thereafter went through the ceremony, after she paid DH an unspecified sum of money.

The next month Kimani and DH filed forms with USCIS seeking a conditional residence card for her. According to the indictment “That form represents that DH and Defendant lived together in Weymouth, Massachusetts, when that was not true.”

In connection with that filing, USCIS summoned the couple to an interview in July, 2004, but neither appeared. Presumably DH decided that he did not want to keep his side of the bargain, so what turned out to be the first attempt at marriage fraud collapsed. Apparently the government made no effort to deport her at that time, or at least there is no record of it.

Two years later, Kimani tried a different illegal tack. In July 2006 she filed another set of papers with USCIS, claiming that she had been married to and living with DH in the period December 2003 into the summer of 2006, and that he had begun to drink heavily and had been abusive to her.

She was seeking legal status as an abused wife; in this process, by law, the abusing husband is not informed of the petition, and USCIS makes a decision without interviewing the partner, or in this case, alleged partner. The government, apparently ignoring the missed joint interview in 2004, went ahead and approved her “self-petition” for legal status in 2010.

Through a mechanism not discussed in either the news article or the indictment, the government found out about the double fraud and caused her to be indicted in August of 2012, apparently while she was in Kenya. She evidently did not know of the indictment and was arrested on her return to JFK Airport on September 5 of this year. She has been in a DHS jail since then.

A number of aliens with African-sounding names, some with ties in both Massachusetts and Maine, were involved in other similar marriage fraud cases and have been indicted, and in several cases convicted and imprisoned.

DH, however, got off free, something that happens too often in marriage fraud cases. Both the citizen and the alien are equally guilty of defrauding the government in these matters.

In the last several years I have read every marriage fraud case I could get my hands on; while I have encountered many cases of purchased marriages, and a few phony abuse-by-citizen cases, this is the first time I have encountered the combination of the two of them.

Does it run in the family? Not mentioned in either the news article or in the grand jury indictment of Margaret Kimani, was the indictment of Susan Kimani. It sounds as if they are sisters or cousins.

Susan K. had arrived in the U.S. from Kenya sometime before February 2005 and her visa expired. She lived in Massachusetts and went to Lewiston where, apparently working with the same gang, she entered into a sham marriage with a citizen identified only as TT. He cooperated with her, and the two of them lied their way through a joint interview with USCIS in 2006, netting her a conditional residence card.

Again, how the government found out about this deception is not known.

Susan K. pled guilty to marriage fraud in 2011 and was sent to jail for two months. She should have been deported, and may have been, but the PACER records on this point are silent.

For users of PACER, the electronic-records system of the federal courts, Susan K.’s file is 1:11-cr-00012-JAW, and that of Margaret K is 2:12-cr-00145-JAW.

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