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DEAR ABBY: I am acquainted with a young man who is 18. His mother is pushing him to marry a young woman from South America so she can stay in the United States. The young lady is an employee at the mother's store. The mother is a very strong force, and I'm afraid he will go along with her plans.

I am sure this kind of thing is done all the time, but if this situation is discovered, what could happen to the young man? Could he go to jail for this? I would hate for him to ruin his life because of his pushy mother.

I would like to present him with all the facts before he commits himself to something this life-altering. If you print my letter, please don't reveal my name or location, as his mother would never allow him to see us again. -- CONCERNED

DEAR CONCERNED: His mother should be ashamed of herself. According to Judge Judith Champagne of the California Superior Court, the name for what you have described is "immigration fraud, and it is a felony that could, indeed, bring jail time." Please warn him that the feds are onto these kinds of shenanigans. "Couples who pretend to be married are called in for an interview and questioned separately about minute details that cannot be faked. Being convicted of a felony could ruin this young man's future, so I strongly advise against taking such a foolish risk."

DEAR ABBY: Please tell me what to do. I was at a birthday luncheon with six other women, and a discussion about female newscasters came up. One of the guests was raving about how wonderful a certain news anchor was, and said, "She has eight children!" Feeling naughty, I said, "That just means she likes gettin' it on!" I realize my comment may have been off-color, but we've known each other 20 years, and I was just mouthing off.

The woman who had brought up the newscaster immediately took great offense and replied, "My mother had eight children!" The lady whose 81st birthday we were celebrating then said, "Your mother must have liked to do it, too." The offended lady told us angrily that she didn't appreciate our remarks.

I was very embarrassed and apologized repeatedly, both for myself and the honoree -- who, I can assure you, meant no harm either. Then I had my lunch packed up, paid my share of the bill, and left.

I told my husband what happened, and he assured me that I had done nothing wrong. The offended woman brought her mother into the discussion, and the lady whose birthday it was made the comment about her mother. I feel ashamed and angry at the same time. The woman ignored my apology and ruined the birthday party.

Can't a group of senior ladies who have been friends more than 20 years share a little spice? Or am I out of step? -- STILL UPSET IN MIDLOTHIAN, VA.

DEAR STILL UPSET: There is an old saying, "Never discuss sex, politics or religion" at parties -- and you unwittingly touched on one (possibly two) of the subjects. Do I think you committed social suicide? No, I think the woman overreacted. Write her a short note apologizing again, and then drop it. Whether she accepts it or not is up to her.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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