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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

U.S. men and foreign women face roadblock in walk down the aisle

An article on the new Imbra law from the International Herald Tribune/New York Times:
U.S. men and foreign women face roadblock in walk down the aisle

By Eduardo Porter The New York Times

Published: October 17, 2006

PALM COAST, Florida Adam Weaver thought everything was set to bring his Colombian fiancée, Yesenia Meza, to the United States.

But Weaver did not count on being hindered by a congressional effort intended to protect women from potential abuse by American men who seek brides from other countries on the Internet. In June, the federal immigration service froze 10,000 visa applications for foreign fiancées because they did not conform with a law that had gone into effect in March.

Weaver and Meza, who were expecting to be together here by now, were caught in the net.

"Smuggling a ton of cocaine into this country," Weaver fumed, "is probably easier than bringing your fiancée."

The law, known as the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, or Imbra, is intended to give foreign women and the U.S. government more information about the men who seek so-called mail-order brides.

"This is an unequal partnership where you have somebody dependent on somebody else in a profound way," said Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, who was a leading sponsor of the law. "It puts women at a significant disadvantage, in a potentially violent situation."

Reports of violence in international marriages, some of them Internet matches, have increased in recent years. In 1998, fewer than 2,500 foreign women applied to become permanent residents under the Violence Against Women Act, which allows abused wives to apply for residence without the support of their husbands. In the fiscal year that ended in September, 9,500 applied.

The government does not keep tabs on international matchmaking, so there are no reliable data on the prevalence of domestic abuse involving mail-order brides. One such case, however, involved Katerina Brunot, a Russian who was 22 when Frank Sheridan, then a 38- year-old plumber, spotted her on a European Connections Web site seven years ago.

After Brunot married Sheridan, it went downhill fast. Her husband kept her a virtual prisoner, beat her, had her put in jail and harassed her. He died in a shootout with a police officer who was trying to arrest him for stalking.

"I think the percentage of men looking for someone from another country who are violent is very high," said Brunot. "Probably most of them want to control because when you are a foreigner you sort of belong to that person."

The new law has angered many men, who rightly argue that there is no definitive evidence that violence is more likely to take place in an international marriage arranged over the Internet than in a domestic one. Unwilling or unable to find a spouse in the United States, some worry that the law could make it more difficult to find a wife abroad.

Under Imbra, dating agencies that specialize in matching American men with women overseas must first obtain information about a man's criminal record and marital history, relay it to the woman and then get her consent before disclosing her contact information. Men must also provide this information to the government when applying for a fiancée visa. Generally, applicants have a lifetime visa limit of two foreign fiancées.

Web sites offer men in affluent countries contacts with women from just about everywhere in the developing world; Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam are among the most popular countries.

The businesses vary in their approaches. Russianladies.com, owned by European Connections, based in Georgia, charges men for membership and requires a fee for sending and receiving e-mail messages.

Two others, A Foreign Affair and Filipina Ladies, organize trips to places like Bangkok, where a dozen men may meet several hundred women.

At the age of 40, Weaver, a construction manager, figured that the only American women who would be interested in him would be divorced, with a former husband and children in the background. Moreover, he said, American women are self-centered, competitive and too critical. "I would prefer a more old-fashioned girl," he said.

Last year, he found Meza, a Colombian 17 years his junior, on the I Love Latins Web site. "Her profile," he wrote in an e-mail message, "was one of the only ones that said, 'I want to know a man who knows about God.'"

Weaver bought Meza a computer, a digital camera and a high-speed connection so they could talk every day by Internet phone.

In September, he visited Meza in Colombia for the third time. "My relationship with Yesenia," he said, "is real and more valid than anything I ever had in my life."

Meza also says she is eager to start her life with Weaver. "In Colombia most men are womanizers and want to dominate women," she said in a telephone interview. "I want a loving man who will treat me like a queen."

So far, however, they have not cleared immigration. A spokesman for the immigration service said most of the backlogged visa applications frozen in June had been processed.

Supporters of the law insist they are not trying to stop marriages between American men and foreign women but say the women should be informed about what they are getting into.

Two matchmaking companies have sought to block the law in court.

Weaver, for all his exasperation over the wait, acknowledges that providing the extra information required by the law may be warranted.

So does Meza. But they do not see why they should have to suffer in the meantime.

"If men are investigated it will be good for all women," Meza said. "But when you are in love and want to go there, you get desperate." (link)

4 Comments:

  • At 11/18/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger Natalia said…

    The tone of outrage in this article is very disheartening. Even Republicans realize that women are in danger here. Sheesh.

     
  • At 12/01/2006 2:06 AM, Blogger Gladys said…

    ha ha! you crack me up, n.

     
  • At 2/15/2007 10:41 PM, Blogger Rick Lee said…

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  • At 7/23/2009 3:22 PM, Blogger richard said…

    GOOD GOD WHAT A SOCIALIST POLICE STATE WE LIVE IN. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT THE CLINTONS AND THIER INK HAVE NOT TRIED TO SCREW UP FOR AMERICAN GUYS??? IT SHOULD BE THE RIGHT OF AN AMERICAN GUY OR GAL TO RETURN A SPOUSE TO THE USA NO QUESTIONS ASKED. ACTUALLY ITS FAR EASIER TO GET A WIFE HOME FOR A CITIZEN OF ALMOST AN OTHER 1 ST WORLD COUNTRY. WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR FREEDOMS HERE IN THE USA. ITS BECOME ALMOST IMPERATIVE FOR AN OLDER MAN TO LOOK OVERSEAS TO FIND A GOOD WIFE NOWADAYS.

     

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