The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that an individual convicted of a sex offense does not have the right to sponsor his foreign born wife for citizenship in the United States in a decision published on July 5. The court’s decision was based upon its interpretation of language in the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) which allows the Department of Homeland Security to approve such citizenship only if the individual can prove he poses “no risk” to his spouse.
According to the court’s decision, the language in the AWA is intended to protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime. Notably, the individual in this case is married to an adult, not a child. In addition, the court ruled that denial of a right to sponsor a foreign born wife for citizenship in the U.S. is not punishment and therefore the AWA can be applied retroactively.
“The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has made a grievous error, an error that destroy families,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to prove that he or she does not pose a risk to his or her spouse. Therefore, the net effect is that virtually all individuals convicted of a sex offense have been and will continue to be denied the ability to live in the U.S. with their foreign born spouses.”
A copy of the court’s decision is available using the link below.