In a segment on Fox & Friends about sham marriages, Alisyn Camerota explains how some people marry for love, while others marry to get their hands on a green card. Camerota said that with the United States cracking down on illegal immigration, more and more immigrants are using these shams marriages as a path to legal citizenship.
My initial thought was that perhaps this growing trend of "sham marriages" was an unintended result of Arizona's tough new immigration law, but it became clear, very quickly where this segment was headed, and who was at fault.
Steve Doocey introduces Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy for The Center For Immigration Studies. Usually these segment start by the host asking a question, but Doocey couldn't wait to connect illegal immigration to terrorism and kick up the fear factor a few notches by introducing The Times Square Bomber, Faisil Shahzad's name into the conversation.
DOOCEY: "Good morning to you Jessica. Um, ya know the case of the Times Square bomber. Uh, how did he wind up with citizenship? He married into the United States of America. Tell me why this is becoming a big, uh a bigger problem?"
When Steve Doocey started to say that this was becoming a big problem, but quickly stopped himself and switched the word "big" for "bigger", you could sense that they already had a destination as to where this story was going. They just needed to finish reading their lines to get there.
VAUGHN: "Well the biggest problem is that under this administration now, the agency that's responsible for adjudicating all of these green card applications sees itself really as a facilitator of immigration and a promoter of immigration, rather than an agency that's supposed to weed out all the bad applications. The number of green cards that are issued based on marriage is in the hundreds of thousands every year. In fact, it represents about a third of all green cards and frankly a lot of these are fraudulent. Most of them (gulp) are legitimate. But it's really the easiest way for someone that is here illegally to pretty much launder their status. And they just have to get through a two year conditional residence period before they can divorce their spouse and then in a couple more years, they can become a citizen and then sponsor others."
If you didn't know any better, many viewers watching this exchange would be left with the impression that Faisal Shahzad, The Times Square Bomber, was able to gain entrance into this country and eventually obtain citizenship entirely as a result of the immigration policy "under this administration now" as Jessica Vaughn had just described to Steve Doocey as being "the biggest problem. "
I would describe Vaughn's attempt to single out the Obama Administration's immigration policy in this matter as disingenuous, particularly since she has written extensively about Shahzad's immigration status in the United States going back to 1998. According to the website for The Center for Immigration Policy, Jessica Vaughn wrote a scathing report indicating that Shahzad was first issued a student visa in Islamabad on December 22, 1998. This is what Vaughn had to say about the issuance of that student visa more than 11 years ago.
"It is difficult to justify the issuance of this student visa. Shahzad certainly failed to demonstrate that he had “sufficient academic preparation to pursue the intended course of study” at the University of Bridgeport, as the regulations required. He was applying as a transfer student, and his transcript from his correspondence course with Southeastern University, a now defunct fourth-rate academic program, showed a GPA of 2.78, including several Ds and an F (in statistics). Moreover, during the 1990s, the University of Bridgeport was financially and academically troubled, with its accreditation and reputation in serious jeopardy, and actively seeking foreign students to compensate for plummeting U.S. enrollment. Not only was the visa a mistake, but the visa officer appears to have erred in giving Shahzad a four-year visa when two would have sufficed to complete the program that Shahzad reportedly told officials he wanted to complete. Many news accounts have asserted that Shahzad underwent a “criminal background check” in order to qualify for the visa. Not exactly — in 1998 this would have been a check of CLASS, the consular database with information on prior refusals, ineligibility's, and derogatory information such as federal arrest warrants, and TIPOFF, which was a watchlist of known and suspected terrorists. Today’s watchlists and databases are far more comprehensive, but still would not have provided grounds for refusal, as Shahzad apparently had no serious criminal history. Under the law, however, the mere absence of a criminal or terrorist history is not enough by itself to qualify for a U.S. visa."
It would have been a good idea for Vaughn to mention her report when Shahzad's name was introduced into the conversation. With her firm belief that Shahzad shouldn't have been allowed into the country in the first place back in 1998, it makes the conversation of him obtaining citizenship via marriage, 11 years down the road, a bit silly. But of course I understand that if she were so inclined to be honest, she would have to do that on an entirely different network.
If you look at Vaughn's full report, titled Faisil Shahzad: So easy anyone could do it you can see how Shahzad was granted various different visas into this country beginning in December of 1998 through January of 2006 when his green card application was approved. All of which have nothing to do with "this administration now" as Vaughn emphasized during the segment.
Furthermore, the final paragraph of Vaughn's report shows that Faisil Shahzad met the conditional residence period in October of 2008 and applied for citizenship. Vaughn asserts that Shahzad's rush to apply for citizenship so quickly after meeting the requirement, should have been a red flag according to a DHS study - I agree, but what does any have to do with Barack Obama or his administration? - Do they think that by saying "the administration now" in lieu of "the Obama administration" makes any difference? - From my perspective. It makes all of the not-so-subtle implications throughout this segment of Fox & Friends seem very unfair & seriously unbalanced. Particularly when you compare it to Vaughn's own report on Faisil Shahzad.