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Private Life Made Public: 10 Things to Know About Marriage and Green Cards

Saturday, October 11, 2014


John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes

We all have public, private and secret lives--every single one of us. The more public we choose to make our lives, the more we invite peeping into our private lives.

What we keep secret is really only for us to decide…until someone decides for us.

Politics is a fair delving game and, frankly, if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be half as interesting. Politicians and the people with whom they sleep know this. Whether it’s Monica Wehby’s ex-boyfriend filing restraining orders or Cylvia Hayes and her pesky marriage-lovin’ ways, it’s all fair game. Depending on the level of juiciness and which team successfully digs up the dirt, we love it and love to hate it, in almost equal measure.

Political wonks wallow in any excavated political dirt they can find, but many of us like our political issues less esoteric and dirtier…like sex and its slightly more boring relative, marriage. When it comes to sex, we nonvirgins can really weigh in with experience and opinions.

It is with great judgment and voracious opinion spewing that we received the news of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, failing to share with anyone that the governor would not be her Mike Todd, but rather her Eddie Fisher. 

The bigger issue is that Cylvia had never lost that lovin’ feeling for her third husband because it would appear that she never had it. It wasn’t that marrying for money was such a rare event, it was what her third husband got in return—a green card. 

I know some couples don’t like to share about their past lovers, but I wonder why she didn’t tell her fianceé about her marital past. Maybe that was not the best move on her part, but for his part, I would hate to be judged by what the people I love don’t tell me. 

Selling your pseudo-love for a path to citizenship is certainly fraudulent and illegal. The fact that the sale involved a political-ish figure is interesting, but that’s not the part that got me curious.

What got me curious was some of the various ways people weasel their way into permanent residency. 

10 Things You May Not Have Known About Marriage and Green Cards:

1. Marriage to an American citizen is the most common path to US residency and/or citizenship for foreign nationals. We’re hot marriage material.

2. Although it may be a Sortafact that mail-order bride arrangements are more commonly correlated with Minecraft accounts than gym memberships, it is a fact that the mail-order bride industry is huge. On a leading Asian dating website, more than 67,000 single women and 16,000 men share profiles and photos seeking love, romance, and marriage.

International Wife Finders help thousands of lonely, disillusioned men find their special lady loves from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Rim.

3. I wonder how Cylvia Hayes met her third husband because I could not find any sites for lonely or impoverished women hunting in foreign lands for love, romance and marriage. There are plenty for men seeking women, but those that work the other way are harder to find.

Perhaps I gave up too easily.

4. Arranged marriages in cultures in which arranged marriages are still common often involve US citizens and foreign nationals. It isn’t uncommon for dowry-like assets to be involved. Perhaps they learn to love, but if they don’t, is this some kind of fraud?

5. I had a friend who married under a Friends-and-Family plan. She married a dear, gay friend so he could stay in the US while he and his partner waited for the legalization of gay marriage so they could marry. I think payments were more of a goods-and-services variety versus straight cash. 

6. It is not uncommon for foreign nationals to divorce their foreign national spouse, marry a US citizen, eventually divorce the US citizen spouse, and remarry their original spouse. That makes me tired and appreciative of my natural-born US citizenship.

Thanks, great-grandma Esther. 

7. Several lovely accented people I know married for money and, from what I can tell, got very little beyond a great shoe closet out of the deal.

8. Sham marriages result in a heightened concern for the legitimacy of all marriages between US citizens and foreign nationals. This makes it harder for the legitimate marriages. What constitutes a legitimate marriage? 

9. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available every year. There is a random selection among individual entries coming from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. The marriage rates of the visa lottery winners skyrocket…everyone loves to marry a winner.

10. Marriage isn’t the only fast track to permanent residency. Entrepreneurs who make an investment in a commercial business in the US of $1 million (or at least $500,000 in targeted high unemployment or rural areas), and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified workers, are eligible to apply for permanent residence. Their spouses and unmarried children under 21 get to come along.

Yet another reason to marry money.

11. None of this is to indicate approval of disapproval of anything Kitzhaber will do or will not do with the news about his fianceé’s creative use of the institution of marriage. A lot of people find creative uses for marriage. 

We all differ in what we choose to make public, maintain private, and keep secret.

Judging is human. Judging with compassion is humane.

A graduate degree in behavioral science, three generations of Portland blood in her veins, 20 years as a real-estate broker, and a lifetime of delving into other people’s business has caused Becki Saltzman’s severe curiosity disorder. She is the author of Arousing the Buy Curious: Real Estate Pillow Talk for Patrons and Professionals, founder of Oomau Media, and she looks forward to expanding membership in the Tribe of the Curious.

Banner Photo Credit: iStock 


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