What Defines a Sham Marriage?
What struck me about the case was not the political element but the question of what, for purposes of immigration, makes a marriage a sham. Married couples usually live together, usually sleep together, usually share income and meals. But none of those is a defining characteristic of marriage. If a couple goes through the usual legal formalities, what more do they have to do in order that their marriage count as real?
It's a serious issue in the context of immigration. Eighty years ago, when marriage was a more serious and divorce a more difficult matter and the reputation for female virginity a significant asset on the marriage market, marrying someone you didn't love or plan to live with was a costly way of getting him or her permission to immigrate, although I expect it occasionally happened. In our current society, those costs are a great deal less. Permitting anyone married to a U.S. citizen to live in the U.S., perhaps to become a citizen, looks like a yawning gap in the barriers that the U.S. puts up against would-be immigrants. But how, given the difficulty of defining what makes a marriage real, can that gap be closed?
Apparently the INS has an answer to that question. Anyone know what it is?