Oregon's First Lady Caught Up In Green Card Marriage Controversy

A funny thing happened on the way to the Governor’s mansion for Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s wife, Cylvia Hayes. While Hayes told Kitzhaber about two previous marriages, she failed to mention a third. And it looks like it was a real doozy.

M]arriage records show, Hayes married a teenage Ethiopian immigrant [Abraham B. Abraham] 11 years younger than she. It’s not clear why Hayes entered into the marriage and why she has kept it secret. However, public records raise questions about whether the marriage was legitimate or whether it was a way to help the young man with his immigration status.

Making matters worse, it turns out to have been a so called “green card marriage,” which is illegal. Hayes has now admitted as much and also to taking $5,000 for participating in the marriage.  The Governor has already been taking heat for his wife’s “consulting work for organizations that want to influence state policy.” 

Obtaining residency or citizenship for an immigrant through marriage to a legal resident is often called a “green card marriage.” It is a federal crime for both participants if it is determined that the marriage is a sham and executed solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. It’s illegal whether or not the U.S. citizen is paid to take part in the marriage.

When she married Abraham, Hayes was three weeks shy of her 30th birthday. Court records show she had divorced her second husband three months earlier… Hayes and Abraham married on July 19, 1997. The couple filed for divorce four years and three months later.


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