Disturbing Marriage Fraud Case

A Federal Judge in Nevada has ruled that two highly questionable prior marriages between an illegal alien and two different U.S. citizens should be ignored and that the alien should be allowed to proceed toward a green card as a result of a third marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Routinely, someone who has sought Lawful Permanent Resident status through marriage fraud is barred for life from using another marriage to seek a green card.

The alien in the case is Vy Nhu Hoang Dinh, who came to the United States in 2002 as an F-1 student, but soon dropped out of school and thus out of legal status. To remedy the status problem she paid $12,000 to a middleman, Hao, who together with Dinh’s mother arranged for Dinh to marry a citizen named Prince. That marriage collapsed quickly and Dinh shortly thereafter married another citizen named Duran, again with the mother’s encouragement and perhaps pushing. That marriage took place in 2004.

Duran promptly filed papers with USCIS so that his new “bride” could become a legal resident. There is strong evidence in the court records that Dinh had no intention of moving in with Duran, and they, too, were divorced.

Meanwhile, Hao was indicted for taking money to arrange marriages “between American men and Vietnamese women in which the men allegedly received a kickback and the women were allegedly unaware of the scam,” according to an Interpreter Releases article of August 4. Also, meanwhile, Duran pled guilty in Utah federal court to “misdemeanor aiding and abetting the attempted illegal entry of an alien [Dinh].”

Despite all this seemingly dubious activity, the district court judge in this case, Andrew P. Gordon, found that Dinh had done nothing wrong, stating “this appears to be consistent with the Vietnamese custom of accepting a parent’s choice of a spouse”, to quote from his decision. The judge appeared to be putting the ancient advice “when in Rome do what the Romans do” on its head, and seemed more concerned about Vietnamese customs than American practices.

The case appeared on his docket because, to quote Interpreter Releases again, “Dinh married Chau, her current U.S.-citizen husband in October 2006, and they submitted their I-130 and I-485 forms a few weeks later.” Subsequently, with much time passing, USCIS decided (appropriately in my eyes) that because of prior marriage fraud, they would not proceed with the application. Dinh and Chau sued to overturn that ruling.

The judge ruled to reverse the USCIS decision, and told the agency to continue to process the papers. One wonders if this is the end of the matter, or if (as so often happens in immigration cases) there will be more legal proceedings.

The judge who made this decision is new to the bench — he is a recent Obama appointee — and relatively young (early fifties) so he is likely to be making immigration decisions for the next two decades.

For more on the case (the Interpreter Releases article is not online), see the text of the decision on PACER, the federal courts’ electronic system, at 2:12–cv-01795-APG-CWH.

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