US approved thousands of child bride requests

In this photo taken on Wednesday March 28, 2018, a detail of a napkin with the word 'Bride' embroidered in gold on display at the Wedding Gallery, in London. The big decisions have been made: the venue, the guest list, the menu and the flowers. Now, with 50 days to go until the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's time for the details that will make a large royal wedding feel personal and intimate. That's the view of Anna McGregor, director of the Wedding Gallery, one of Britain's leading wedding planning agencies. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

WASHINGTON (AP) Data obtained by The Associated Press shows thousands of requests by men to bring in child and adolescent brides to live in the United States were approved over the past decade. In one case, a 49-year-old man applied for admission for a 15-year-old girl.

The approvals are legal. The Immigration and Nationality Act does not set minimum age requirements. And in weighing petitions for spouses or fiancees, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services goes by whether the marriage is legal in the home country and then whether the marriage would be legal in the state where the petitioner lives.

But the data raises questions about whether the immigration system may be enabling it and how U.S. laws may be compounding the problem despite efforts to limit child and forced marriage.