Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just Like In The Movies

Admittedly, Gerard Depardieu was a bit too old for Andie MacDowell, besides being a bit, shall we say, large for a romantic lead. Green Card was, in spite of its minor flaws, a charming bit of fluff that made for a night's entertainment.

The story was an old one. Illegal immigrant wants to stay in America, but he needs an American spouse. Through comedic means, he pairs up with a willing citizen and the rest is screwball comedy history. Pity it doesn't work that way in real life.

Jeremy Stames came to the aid of Svetlana Kostigova, who did not wish to go back from whence she came. Life is good in the States, no matter the whinging of the politicians, and there's plenty doing in Chicago for a go-getter from Eastern Europe. So, like the movie (except the illegal immigrant was the male, rather than the female, lead character) the couple entered into a sham marriage in 2002 and Ms. Kostigova could breathe easy. She found such relief, in fact, that she joined in with Mr. Stames to bring that same peace and harmony to others in similar situations.

In the movie, the prize for the illegal scam was a much desired apartment. In the real version of events, the award for scam marriages was $5000. Not much work for such a large pay-out, and anyone with a decent memory could pull it off. The participants were required to convince INS agents that the marriage was real, so there was a bit of time and effort involved. That $5000 was earned, not given away recklessly.

American citizens who took part in the scheme all worked together, going to each other's fake weddings and posing for pictures as if it were a real wedding. And then, like the movie, they used the pictures to bolster their claims of marriage.

The Federal authorities who broke up the ring are no doubt great fans of Gerard Depardieu or Andie MacDowell, because they didn't fall for it. Obviously, they were quite familiar with the plot line and clever devices of Green Card. Nine U.S. citizens and their nine Eastern European spouses have been arrested and charge with marriage fraud and immigration fraud. The Yanks face five years in prison. The foreigners face deportation.

That's not how it happened in the movie. Aren't these people supposed to fall in love and live happily ever after?

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