You made that cake, you eat it.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8444360.stm

“If nothing is done, I think we will go back to where we were. We had people queuing up in our waiting area – all of them were just bogus marriage after bogus marriage.”

This phenomenon should come as no surprise.

If the institution of civil marriage is both uniquely privileged and easy to enter, there will be some people who enter into it insincerely.

If your country enjoys a standard of living that most of the world envies, then you will have foreigners attempting to enter your country. If you place restrictions on legal immigration, then you will see large numbers of illegal immigrants.

When legal immigration is difficult and marriage is easy, and there are a lot of people trying to gain legal entry into a particular country, there should be no surprise when some of those people use civil marriage to improve their immigration status.

This is the situation that wealthy countries have created. One of the benefits of civil marriage is to allow foreign spouses of citizens to gain legal resident status. There are vast numbers of people in a given country who are terrified at the prospect of being sent back to poverty, oppression, chaos or some combination thereof and live in fear of the authorities. It should be no surprise when they take the simplest route to citizenship. There shouldn’t be any surprise, either, if there are citizens of that country who can offer help, for a fee.

Unless wealthy countries are prepared to address the reasons why people immigrate illegally–and, let’s face it, what country is actually going to give up a ready pool of cheap labor when the economy is a perpetual obsession?–they will see sham marriages. They could make marriage more difficult for everyone–and deal with the uproar that follows. Or they could single out foreign nationals seeking marriage licenses for extra scrutiny, and prepare to deal with the racial discrimination and civil rights violation complaints that will rightly follow. They could try making civil divorce a lot more difficult for everyone, and thus reduce the appeal of a sham marriage, and then deal with the uproar that will follow from their native population.

Alternatively, they could accept that sham marriage is a fact of civil life in a world dominated by yawning inequality and rampant human rights abuse, and let people get on with their lives.

P.S. “Biometric checks”? Do I even want to know?