The United States has banned polygamous immigrants since the late nineteenth century. Enacted amid isolationist fears that an influx of polygamists would cause moral deterioration, the polygamy bar remains a resolute, if often overlooked, feature of modern immigration law. The current immigration scheme continues this tradition, rendering immigrants who intend to practice polygamy in the United States categorically ineligible for legal-permanent-resident status. As a result, the immigration bar allows polygamous men to immigrate with a wife of their choosing and the children from each of their marriages. Their other wives, however, are deemed inadmissible to the United States.

This Note explores the immigration bar’s disproportionate effect on the foreign wives of polygamous immigrants. In addition to precluding the other wives of polygamous immigrants from legal permanent-resident status, the current immigration bar also renders such women ineligible for humanitarian ingress. After offering a comparative analysis of how Canada and the United Kingdom reconcile their respective policies against polygamy with the burgeoning question of women’s rights, this Note proposes that Congress likewise treat foreign women in polygamous unions with a degree of equity.

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