President Bush has signed legislation to protect mail-order brides, a measure inspired by the deaths of two women from other countries who were slain by their American husbands in Washington state.
SEATTLE – President Bush has signed legislation to protect mail-order brides, a measure inspired by the deaths of two women from other countries who were slain by their American husbands in Washington state.
Rep. Rick Larsen and Sen. Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., introduced the legislation to help prevent tragedies such as those that befell Anastasia King and Susanna Blackwell, both murdered by men whose proposals had promised the American dream.
It provides safeguards and information for women who come here from other countries to marry Americans. For one thing, they would be provided — in their native languages — with a document outlining their rights in the United States under immigration law and domestic-violence statutes.
“These common sense safeguards will protect women like Anastasia King and Susanna Blackwell, whose lives could have been saved if these protections had been in place when they needed them,” Larsen said.
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“These women didn’t know what was legal. They were not on an equal playing field when they got here,” said Larsen spokeswoman Abbey Levenshus in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
Prospective brides also will be aware of any criminal records, she said. Under the new law, for example, Anastasia King could have learned that a previous fiancee had obtained a domestic-violence restraining order against Anastasia’s husband, Indle King.
The provision also would end “the wife lottery,” Levenshus said.
“Until this law, it was perfectly OK to apply for as many foreign-fiancee visas as you wanted at one particular time. … and whichever one is approved first is the winner,” she said.
Now, American men can only apply for one foreign-fiancee visa at a time.
“We’re not trying to stop you from having a second chance” if things don’t work out, Levenshus said. “We just don’t want you to have six chances at the same time.”
She noted that King “already had another fiancee visa in the works when he murdered Anastasia.”
Anastasia King died in 2000, strangled by her husband and a friend, Daniel Kristopher Larson. King was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 29 years in prison. Larson testified against him and was sentenced to 20 years for second-degree murder.
Although Larson pleaded guilty in 2002 to second-degree murder, he’s now trying to get the conviction reversed on appeal. Snohomish County, Wash., prosecutors, who contend the appeal violates Larson’s plea agreement, charged him late last year with first-degree murder. Larson’s lawyer said he doesn’t believe that new charge is properly filed.
Blackwell, who had divorced the man who brought her to the U.S., was shot to death in 1995 along with two friends in the King County Courthouse in Seattle. The murders prompted new security measures in Seattle courthouses. Timothy Blackwell was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.