Louisiana Law Prevents Legal Immigrants From Marrying
A Louisiana law that went to effect on Jan.1, 2016 has made it difficult for legal immigrants to get married in the state.
Marriage license laws in Louisiana prohibits anyone from obtaining a marriage license without a birth certificate, valid international ID or passport, according to WDSU. At the time the bills were proposed, they were said to be designed to combat marriage fraud.
“Fraudulent marriage is the number one way to get a green card,” said Republican State Sen. A.G. Crowe, according to the Associated Press in 2015.
Whatever the laws were designed for, they’ve caused a great deal of hardship for thousands of legal immigrants in Louisiana, including many Vietnamese and Laotion refugees who arrived to the U.S. in the 70’s and 80’s, according to the Washington Post.
One example is Out Xanamane, a Laotian refugee who arrived to the U.S. in 1986. Between 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of bombs on Laos, according to Legacies of War. Xamamane was born in 1975 when much of the country was still in ruins and he never received a birth certificate.
In 1986, Xamamane was given refugee status to come to the U.S. and has lived in Louisiana ever since. He started a family with a woman he has been with for 20 years and has had four children with. But tragedy struck when he was diagnosed ith liver cancer. Needing to be formally married to his long-time partner, he tried to get a marriage certificate but was denied because he didn’t have a birth certificate.
“They told me I have to go back to Laos and get my birth certificate,” Xanamane, who hasn’t been back to Laos since he left in 1986, told the Washington Post. “But there isn’t any birth certificate there, either.”
Xanamane and his wife had to drive to Alabama to have their marriage formally recognized.
Sources: Washington Post, Legacies of War, Associated Press via Washington Times, WDSU/ Photo Credit: Jeff Belmonte/Wikipedia