Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buyer Beware!

I came across the story of Gary Oldenkamp, who learned the hard way about the hazards of Russian brides:

“To understand this incident you have to know about the Violence Against Women Act of 1996,” said Oldenkamp.“There is a little piece in it that states if an immigrant is abused by her husband or other family member, and can prove the abuse, then they become admitted for permanent residence.Elana was going to get her green card with or without me.”

11 comments:

Dexter said...

"I believed that Russian brides were soft, docile and calm."

Hahahaha, he sure didn't do his homework! They are tough as nails, and will chew up and spit out an American beta in a heartbeat.

Elusive Wapiti said...

I have read in more than one place how the Russian bride biz is thoroughly penetrated by the Russian mob.

Lesson for beta men skeered of getting with an American woman...go to a friendly foreign country, find yourself a good woman in her culture. And stay there. Chances are high that you'll treat her much better, and be higher status, than the local dudes, so you should have no problems.

Under no circumstances should a Western man bring foreign woman to his home country. The laws see to it that he will regret this decision.

trumwill said...

I am trying to figure out why this doesn't bother me all that much. I mean, I certainly don't approve of a woman marrying a man and trumping up charges to stay in the country. I find that detestable. But neither do I approve of men as using their citizenship as currency to get a more attractive woman abroad and holding the threat of deportation over her head as a means of near-complete control. And from a policy level, it's hard not to tilt one way or the other. I was going to say that it seems that there ought to be a standard of proof required, but it seems that there is. So we're kind of in the position of having to allow exploitation in one direction or the other. It's a messy business.

There was an episode of NBC's Life dedicated to this topic. Russian mob-man (the main villain of the series, in fact) bringing women over by way of mail-order or something of the like and then blackmailing then men.

Φ said...

Trumwill: Let's stipulate for the moment that your mercenary characterization -- she is trading on her attractiveness, he on his citizenship -- is fair. That, then, becomes the basis for the contract. Nothing about that contract either is inherently exploitative (i.e. involves the use of force or fraud) or gives the man "absolute power": she is, after all, free to return to her home country and the status quo ante. To prevent that, he must continue to provide a better life for her than she had originally. But what this odious provision of VAWA does is essentially say that one party gets what she wants out of the contract and the other does not.

But even absent this provision, she retains a number of advantages. Presumably, if the couple divorce under American law, she is entitled to half his assets. If there are children, she gets presumptive custody and the children make her eligible for residency.

Come to think of it, I could have sworn that marriage to an American makes a woman eligible for citizenship anyway!

Regardless, my original point stands: buyer beware!

trumwill said...

If everyone is acting in good faith, there's simply no problem. The question is what happens when someone is not acting in good faith. How often do you expect it is that men that would beat their mail-order brides let them know that beforehand?

Sure, the woman is free to leave... if she has the resources to get home (I don't think deportation puts you at your doorstep), if there is still a home for her to go back to, if being divorced does tar her within her community, and so on. It's not like if things don't work out they go on just like they would have before.

That's why I don't find "Well, she's free to leave" to be all that compelling. Marriage has certain obligations, including not deliberately mistreating your spouse because you're just a little bit better than sending her back to her homeland in disgrace.

Now, if the woman is lying, that obviously changes things. That's why there needs to be a standard of proof. If the standard is too weak, I am open to believing it should be changed. However, if a woman is cunning and cold enough to beat herself or a family member up and blaming it on him... what are you going to do? You're allowing exploitation in one direction or another.

And yeah, I would still call a marriage wherein one party has the power to threaten to have the other sent away and uses that power exploitative. I can see how one might view it differently, but if it's non-exploitative in the sense that blackmail is same. Yes, the victim has other really bad options to choose from, but it doesn't make it right.

Not all exploitation should be illegal, but exploitation in the service of illegal activity (assault, in this case) should have consequences that are not possible without addressing the exploitation that keeps the crime covered up in the first place.

I never contested your main point. Buyer beware, indeed.

Φ said...

Okay, I allow that "the plural of anecdote is not data," but anecdotes still trump hypotheticals about "tarred in the community" and "can't get home." Do you have anything to support them?

"Marriage has certain obligations . . ." True, but we stipulated the relationship was mercenary, correct? Are we really arguing that men "deliberately mistreat" their wives just cuz they can? But I rather think that men get married for other reasons.

trumwill said...

I'll grant you that "tarred in the community" may be a stretch, though I would imagine that their ability to remarry and the like would be diminished. Not that they wouldn't be able to, but their options would be more limited. Main point being that it's not as though their wouldn't be costs.

Which brings me to the other part. It goes to the heart of who I think these women are. I don't think that signing up to marry an American they've never met is something that normal people do if there are other options. I strongly suspect that these people draw disproportionately from the very poor. Lack of means is an oft-cited reason for women not leaving men in this country. That they would end up at some center

Φ said...

I don't think that signing up to marry an American they've never met is something that normal people do if there are other options. I strongly suspect that these people draw disproportionately from the very poor.

Well said. For that matter, signing up to marry a Russian woman is something that will draw disproportionally from sexually impoverished men.

There are lots of reasons why they should be wary of each other. Come to think of it, my inaugural post was on this very subject. But I don't see why legislation should be partial to one or the other party. I especially don't see why the government should create incentives for women to make false claims of abuse.

Except . . . I do. You know and well as I do that all our talk about what's fair couldn't be more beside the point. This legislation is entirely an expression of feminist political power.

trumwill said...

That comment was actually a rough draft. I can't seem to get the real comment to go through (too long, maybe?). I actually addressed your point about men:

As for the men... I suspect that a good number of these men do get married for other reasons. I suspect that very, very few (if any) of these men get married just so that they can have a human punching bag. But I also suspect that these men are disproportionately likely to pull from men that have difficulty getting along with women and more than a few are bitter about it. And another segment of men who want an automaton with a vagina and will react very unfavorably to anything else. Just as I wouldn't expect the women to draw from a cross-section of the Russian female population, I also would not expect the men to.

None of this should be construed as to say I believe that the women are poor little things with hearts of gold while the men are malicious animals. The women are desperate, which in my mind makes them dangerous. That's one of the multitude of reasons that I never would have gone the mail-order bride route. Even in the absence of laws giving them recourse, my primary fear is that they would hang around just long enough to become citizens or otherwise tied to this country and then ditch me, being unfaithful along the way. I also believe, for what it's worth, that many (maybe most) of these men are just sad and lonely and of no threat to anybody.

trumwill said...

Incidentally, my wife's sister married two foreigners (one at a time, obviously). A Russian doctor and a Filipino dance instructor (her current marriage). Even getting him into the country was a hassle and took six months despite the fact that she's a lawyer and they'd been married for six months before she moved back to the mainland (they were married in a US territory, but not the US proper) So I knew that marriage did not confer citizenship and that there were logistical hurdles. I also have a friend who married a Canadian who moved down. The paperwork they have to jump through is not insignificant (letters of recommendation, pictures together doing things*). They're in love, but they have to prove it. Kind of makes me mad that Portia De Rossi can all but say "Oh yeah, I was in a sham green card marriage" and that there be no repercussions for it.

* - Not like "You have to have your picture taken together twice every six months" but rather random spot-checks of "You better have x-number pictures of yourself from the past x-months or we'll have to do a review."

Φ said...

It's a travesty that people with legal marriages are raked over the coals in an effort to catch what must be a mini ule number of shams while 1M illegals flood across our border every year.