The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act is a federal law designed to protect so-called “mail-order brides” from violent abuse and exploitation by men they meet through international marriage brokers, or IMBs (defined as entities that charges fees for matchmaking services between U.S. citizens/residents and foreign nationals).
Spearheaded by Tahirih and passed in 2005, IMBRA requires U.S. agencies to inform a foreign national if their prospective spouse has a violent criminal history, or if he or she has petitioned in the past 10 years for another spouse, fiancé, or child to come to the U.S. It also requires U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to give foreign brides a pamphlet about their right to be protected from domestic violence and other crimes in the United States.
Alarmed by lack of IMBRA compliance, Tahirih recently advocated for key amendments to strengthen and enforce IMBRA. Congress enacted the amendments through the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Tahirih is proud of our instrumental role in making an IMBRA a reality, but much work remains to translate the law into meaningful and effective protections for foreign brides coming to the United States. Almost a decade has passed since Congress passed IMBRA, but U.S. agencies have yet to fully implement and enforce IMBRA, according to a government study. It is imperative that U.S. agencies:
- Ensure the IMBRA pamphlet effectively communicates rights and protections for victims in the United States
- Distribute the IMBRA pamphlet as required by law
- Document compliance with IMBRA
- Train USCIS, DOJ, and State Department officials on IMBRA’s requirements
Today, more than 400 IMBs operate United States, marketing women from every corner of the globe to American men. In 2013 alone, an estimated 9,000 to 13,000 so called “mail-order brides” entered the U.S. through IMBs.
Despite the rapid growth of this industry, and repeated reports of IMBRA violations, no IMB has been persecuted since IMBRA’s enactment. Tahirih will continue to fight to enforce IMBRA—if enforced, it has tremendous potential to protect vulnerable immigrant women and girls from predators and ensure IMBs don’t operate with impunity.