Mississippi College Law Review

Publication Date

Spring 2024


Ronaldo de Lima Marques appeared to hit the jackpot. He paid a United States citizen to marry him, submitted immigration paperwork on the basis of that fraudulent marriage, and waited. His goal: become a permanent resident of the United States; stay in the country as long as he pleased; perhaps become a U.S. citizen. He succeeded. On September 9, 2006, Mr. Marques received authority from the United States government to make this country his permanent home. He did it. He hoodwinked the system.

His days of peace, however, were limited. Despite an initial failure to detect his sham marriage, the Department of Homeland Security did not remain fooled. Federal authorities uncovered a scheme in which Marques' fake marriage was one of many. They sought to remove him from the United States - yet failed. Taking cover in an apparent gap in immigration law, Marques defeated his deportation order before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The first time, the functionality and effectiveness of the system had failed; this time, it appeared the law itself had failed. An alien committed marriage fraud yet avoided deportation even after being discovered and subjected to removal proceedings.

This Note will examine the law surrounding Marques's surprising victory. It will introduce the reader to key concepts within immigration law including the process by which an alien becomes a permanent legal resident.



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