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U.S. Approved Thousands of Requests to Bring Child Brides to America

Thousands of requests by men to bring child and adolescent brides to live in the United States were approved over the past decade, including one case when a 49-year-old man applied to bring in a 15-year-old girl. Rules made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services determine that, if a marriage is legal in the home country, it’s legal here. But the data, gathered by the Associated Press, has raised fears that U.S. laws may be worsening the problem of child brides and forced marriages. Between 2007 and 2017, there were 5,556 approvals for adults seeking to bring in child spouses or fiancées, and 2,926 approvals by minors seeking to bring in older spouses. “It indicates a problem. It indicates a loophole that we need to close,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. The girls are almost always the younger person in the relationship—in 149 cases, the adult was older than 40, and in 28 cases the adult was over 50. A petition from a 71-year-old man was approved in 2013 for his 17-year-old wife in Guatemala.