Does marriage fraud happen in the marriage, or at the wedding? As it happens, marriage fraud, at least according to the Eleventh Circuit, is a bit of a misnomer – it’s really better thought of as wedding fraud.
The statute is 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c). It says that it’s a marriage fraud whenever “[a]ny individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws.” The case is United States v. Rojas.
The federal sentencing guidelines love numbers.
Numbers, according to the guidelines, are how you know how bad something is. If the amount of loss from a fraud is higher, the fraud is worse. If there are more drugs, the drug distribution is worse. If there are more victims, or guns, or illicit images, or years of illegal peonage, the crime is always, under the guidelines, worse.
The guidelines like numbers for the same reason that lawyers like rankings – they force a crisp objectivity. Columbia is ranked higher than the University of Chicago – if you’re choosing between the two, the decision just got easier.
People love a criminal defendant who tries to outwit the system. I suspect it says something profound about the American impulse to root for the underdog.* I’ve written before (here and here) about federal criminal defendants in the Ninth Circuit who have been rewarded by being clever about their cases.**
And, in United States v. Alvarez-Moreno, defense counsel cleverly navigated his client to an appellate issue.
Mr. Alvarez-Moreno was charged with transporting an alien for profit under 8 U.S.C. S 1324.