Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IMB Regulation and the Age of the Fine Print

For reasons I will explain in a subsequent post, I had occasion to read this description of the "International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005". Broadly speaking, this legislation requires matchmaking and correspondence services connecting Americans and foreigners to research the criminal history of the American client and provide that history to the foreign client.

I'm pretty sure that I've read criticisms of this legislation on MRA sites, but I can't see any objection to this requirement in itself. The obvious question that pops into my head is, if full disclosure of criminal records is such a good idea, why only require it of Americans? Why not require of the foreign client as well?

Oh, that's right: protecting the interests of your own citizens is so . . . pre-1965. Congress doesn't do that anymore.

But here is what I didn't expect:

Definition of an International Marriage Broker. “International marriage broker” is defined as an entity (whether or not U.S.-based) that charges fees for providing matchmaking services or social referrals between U.S. citizens/permanent residents and foreign nationals. The definition also sets forth exceptions so as to exclude nonprofit religious or cultural matchmaking services, and dating services that do not match U.S. citizens/residents with aliens as their principal business and that charge comparable rates and offer comparable services to all clients, regardless of gender or country of citizenship.

Mmmm . . . cui bono?

Here is my speculation: the ethnic lobbies who wrote this legislation realized that background checks on American clients would turn up a lot of people in the country illegally. I also expect that there are substantial numbers of Muslims, Sihks, and Hindus who use these services who would just as soon not be bothered with making these disclosures, and that our ever-obsequious Congress granted them these exemptions. After all, they only wanted to protect immigrant women from white men. If you adhere to some alien culture or pagan religion, well then, it's buyer beware for the women in those relationships.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Mail-order brides are much more significant as a blogosphere obsession than they are in real life. No one keeps specific numbers, so their count has to be estimated from visa statistics. MOB's enter the United States using a particular type of visa. So do many other people, however, and there's no way of knowing what percentage of visa-users are, in fact, MOB's.

If we are to assume that everyone using this type of visa is an MOB, they account for less than one-half of one percent of all marriages in the United States. In reality, of course, the actual percentage is almost certainly lower.