Why are we deporting widows of American Citizens?

12 03 2008

Our current immigration law states that the alien spouse of a US citizen should be deported if their marriage does not last past two years.  This a period in which the alien’s residency is called temporary or conditional. This law was intended to prevent fake marriages where a non-citizen would marry a U.S. citizen to quickly gain legal residency and then just get a quicky divorce. After the two years the Alien has to apply for permanent residency.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS, states that they are required to deport aliens whose spouse dies within two years of being married. Because of this, women and men who entered this country legally are facing deportation when their spouses die during the sometimes seemingly endless administrative visa process. There are over one hundred cases across the country affecting women, mothers and children. 

In some of these cases the spouse died while serving the country. Now the widows not only have to endure the loss of their spouse, but the loss of their home and security. Cases like:

Dahianna Heard, the widow of Jeffrey Heard, killed in March 2006 when the Army soldier was shot in the head by insurgents while delivering equipment to U.S. troops in Iraq. Dahianna Heard, a citizen of Venezuela who lives in Florida, now could be deported even though she and her husband had applied for her residency permit and were awaiting completion of the paperwork. They also had a son who is a U.S. citizen but faces an uncertain future if his mother is deported.

Todd Engstrom was later killed in Iraq when an RPG hit the convoy in which he was riding, while he was helping the U.S. Army train Iraqi soldiers. Now his wife Diana if facing deportation.

Surviving Spouses Against Deportation

Honoring the fallen, but not their widows

There has been a law suit filed to prevent this from happening.

I cannot imagine how I would have felt if this had happened to me. I have been fortunate enough to pass all of the leagal hurdles of the immigration process all the way, to become a US Citizen, I will explain the process in a later post.

It is hard to move to a new country, it is a big adjustment. And after you make this new place a home, the old country is not home anymore. I can’t imagine loosing my husband and then my home.