In the Matter of M

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Board of Immigration AppealsJul 5, 1956
7 I&N Dec. 251 (B.I.A. 1956)
7 I&N Dec. 2517 I&N Dec. 251

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Decided by Board July 5, 1956

Deportability — Section 241 (a) (1), Immigration and Nationality Act — Engaged in prostitution.

Prostitution committed under duress will not support a charge of deportability under section 241 (a) (1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.


Warrant: Act of 1952 — Section 241 (a) (1) — Engaged in prostitution.


Discussion: The respondent appeals from an order entered by the special inquiry officer, March 1, 1956, directing her deportation on the charge stated above. Exceptions have been taken to the finding that respondent practiced prostitution in Mexico prior to her entry for permanent residence on December 18, 1952.

The record relates to a native and citizen of Mexico, female, married, 31 years of age, who last entered the United States at the port of Douglas, Arizona, on October 18, 1955. She was admitted as a returning resident alien on presentation of her Alien-Registration Receipt Card. The respondent has resided in the United States continuously since her admission for permanent residence at Nogales, Arizona, on December 18, 1952. She married a native-born citizen of the United States by civil ceremony at Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, on July 19, 1946. There are no children of this union.

The respondent testified that she practiced prostitution in Mexico for a period of several months prior to February of 1946. She contends that she was forced into the practice of prostitution; that her fall from grace was brought about by fraud, deceit, duress, and coercion practiced upon her; and that she was unable to escape from the immoral life forced upon her until she married her husband and came to the United States. The allegation of duress is best shown by referring to respondent's testimony contained in the record. A brief summary of this testimony shows that she was the oldest of 6 children and that her parents died when she was very young, leaving her the responsibility of supporting her younger brother and sisters. While working at Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, as a waitress, she was induced by 2 women to go to Naco, Sonora, Mexico, on the promise that she would be given employment there as a waitress for higher wages than she was then receiving. She had not reached the age of 18 years but nevertheless was taken to a house of prostitution and told that she was to work as a prostitute and not as a waitress. She testified that she protested but was told that she owed them one thousand pesos for the expenses in bringing her from Magdalena to Naco, Sonora, Mexico, and that she would have to repay this money before she could be released. She further testified that she attempted to escape from this house of prostitution on several occasions but was always located and forced to return to a house of prostitution in order to repay the money she owed. She finally met the man who is now her husband and claims that she has never since had illicit relations with any man. Respondent presented 7 letters attesting to her good moral character and her conduct since she has been married to her present husband. The special inquiry officer stated for the record that he believed that the respondent has testified truthfully and in all sincerity with regard to her experience as a prostitute.

We have carefully considered all the evidence of record. The respondent has testified that she engaged in the practice of prostitution for a period of less than a year. There is also a showing that the respondent was indebted to the operator of the bawdy house to the extent of one thousand pesos and that she did not earn enough to pay for her meals, much less pay the debt. There is also a showing that at the first opportunity respondent, upon assurance of security through marriage, fled those who led her astray.

We are of the same opinion as the special inquiry officer that respondent has testified truthfully. As a matter of law she is not excludable as a prostitute under section 212 (a) (12) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, because those to whom respondent was indebted reduced her to such a state of mind that she was actually prevented from exercising her free will through the use of wrongful, oppressive threats or unlawful means. We have had occasion in the past to consider facts similar to those presented in the instant case and have held that prostitution committed under duress would not support a charge laid under section 241 (a) (1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Accordingly, we find the charge stated in the warrant of arrest not sustained. The proceedings will be terminated.

Weisert v. Bramman, 358 Mo. 636, 216 S.W. 2d 430 (1948); Walk-A-Show v. Stanton, 182 Md. 405, 35 A. 2d 121 (1943); Southern Ry. Co. v. Stewart, 115 F. (2d) 317 (C.C.A. 8, 1940).

Matter of R---- H----, A-10507646, B.I.A., December 28, 1955 (unreported).

Order: It is ordered that the proceedings under the warrant of arrest be and the same are hereby terminated.

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