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Senators seek to change immigration law to curb child marriages

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By Dartunorro Clark

Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday to close loopholes in U.S. immigration law that have allowed thousands of minors to be subjected to child marriages.

The move follows a report by Senate Homeland Security Committee that found the federal government approved requests from thousands of men to bring child brides or fiancées into the country over the past decade, in part because the Immigration and Nationality Act doesn’t set minimum age requirements in such visa requests.

Under that law, a U.S. child can petition for a visa for a spouse or fiancé living in another country, and a U.S. adult can do the same for a minor spouse or fiancé living abroad, the report found.

The legislation, introduced by the committee’s chairman, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, would set a minimum age of 18 for spouses or fiancées in visa applications.

“A visa to enter the United States is a privilege, and this straightforward reform will help close a loophole that can lead to the abuse and exploitation of children,” Johnson said in a statement. “I hope my colleagues will join me to advance this commonsense legislation.”

The legislation would not completely end child marriage in the United States because most states allow citizens under 18 to marry, but often with judicial or parental consent. New Jersey and Delaware are the only states that prohibit marriages involving those under the age of 18, having passed bans on the practice last year.

Between 2007 and 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services approved more than 5,500 petitions by adults to bring minor spouses or fiancées into the country, and granted nearly 3,000 requests by minors trying to bring in older spouses or fiancés, the committee’s report said. Girls were the minors in 95 percent of the cases.

The agency also approved petitions for people with significant age differences, the report found. In one case, a 71-year-old U.S. citizen requested a visa for a 17-year-old spouse from Guatemala, and in another, a 14-year-old sought entry for a 38-year-old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both visa requests were granted. The USCIS approved 149 petitions involving a minor with an adult spouse or fiancé who was over 40, the report said.

In reviewing such visa petitions, Citizenship and Immigration Services only considers whether the age at marriage violates the laws “of the place of celebration” or the U.S. state in which the couple plans to live, the report said. But data entry errors and faulty processes at the agency — particularly its reliance on a paper-based immigration benefits system — prevent the applications from getting thoroughly vetted, the report found.

In addition, the State Department, which is responsible for issuing the visas, rarely rejects petitions approved by the immigration agency, the report said.

The findings prompted advocates to demand Congress take action to close the loopholes in the immigration system that allow such child marriages to continue in the United States.

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Politics

Michael Gove CONFIRMS Tory leadership bid with swipe at Boris Johnson and Raab

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MICHAEL GOVE is set to declare he is running to be the next Prime Minister after making a pitch to MPs.

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Trump doesn’t seem to understand what ‘treason’ means

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — Once again on Thursday, President Donald Trump used the T-word, this time saying that former FBI officials who were involved in investigating his campaign committed treason.

Asked at a White House event which of his adversaries he had in mind when he accused them of treason, he said, “A number of people. They have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person.” He then specified former FBI director James Comey, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and former FBI agent Peter Strzok.

“That’s treason. They couldn’t win the election, and that’s what happened.”

But that isn’t what the Constitution says treason is. It doesn’t mean being disloyal to the president. And it certainly would not apply to any actions against a private citizen, which Donald Trump was as a candidate for president.

Here’s what the Constitution says (Article III, Section 3): “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

“Enemy” means a country or an entity that has declared war or is in a state of open war against the US. “Aid and comfort” must be something material, not words of encouragement.

That “enemy” element of treason is very significant. For example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953 after they were convicted on espionage charges for passing US atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union, could not be charged with treason because the Soviets were not considered enemies.

No one has been convicted of treason in the U.S. for nearly 70 years. The last few cases involved Americans who aided Germany and Japan during World War II.

The Justice Department considered charging John Walker Lindh with treason in 2001 but decided against it because of the extremely high burden of proof. In 2006, the Justice Department charged an Oregon-born man, Adam Gadahn, with treason for making propaganda videos for al Qaeda.

The Constitution does not specify a penalty, but a federal law does — anything from five years in prison to death.



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Brexit LIVE: 'Dog****!' Boris Johnson ally rages as critics launch 'smear' to stop no deal

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BORIS JOHNSON’s ally has lashed out at “smears” against his Tory leadership campaign, claiming rivals are turning on him in a bid to stop a no deal Brexit.

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