by CALLUM BORCHERS and STEPHEN KURKJIAN of the Initiative for Investigative Reporting in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.
By some government estimates, as many as 60,000 of the 200,000 or so marriages by which illegal immigrants, or those on temporary visas, become lawful permanent residents ... are fraudulent. ... Yet the government investigates less than 1 percent of the 200,000 approved applications for fraud. ... On the rare occasions the marriages are exposed as shams, American citizens rarely face consequences, even as their foreign spouses are deported. ...
A suspicion that a marriage is fraudulent must be vetted at four levels – two at CIS, two at ICE – before it is fully investigated. Even then, a U.S. attorney may decide not to prosecute.