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Hayes Unlikely to Face Prosecution But Ex-Husband Could Face Deportation

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Cylvia Hayes confessed to an "illegal marriage" Thursday. Photo Credit: Shelby Sebens

Cylvia Hayes may have opened herself up to political controversy on Thursday when she admitted to an "illegal marriage" in 1997, but she might not have opened herself to criminal prosecution. However, her former husband, Abraham B Abraham could be in more trouble.

Hayes, the fiancée of Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber threw herself on the mercy of public opinion at an afternoon press conference after media reports surfaced that she had been married to an Ethiopian immigrant, Abraham B. Abraham, and had not disclosed it to Kitzhaber.

In a tearful speech, Hayes declared that she had accepted $5,000 in cash in exchange for the sham marriage arrangement. That’s a federal crime.

“This is criminal activity, people go to jail for this,” said Lori Haley, public affairs officer for the Department of Homeland Security of marriage fraud. “This poses a legitimate threat to national security and undermines our legal immigration process.”

A sham marriage is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, $250,000 in fines, or both.

But some estimates indicate that less than one percent of the sham marriages in the country get investigated, according to a report by Northeastern University’s Center for Investigative Reporting.

That said, Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division makes about 500 to 1,000 criminal arrests each year for immigration and immigration benefits fraud.

Hayes confession of her criminal marriage, however, won’t open her to prosecution. The statute of limitations on sham marriages ends five years after the crime was committed. That means by 2002, shortly after Hayes divorced Abraham, they were both technically immune from prosecution.

But Abraham, may now be vulnerable to deportation. The law states that deportation of immigrants can take place at any time.

Abraham, now 35, lives in Washington D.C., according to the Willamette Week.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not comment on whether the agency was investigating Abraham in light of Hayes’ announcement.

“We don’t confirm or deny anything about ongoing investigations,” Haley said.


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