Friday, August 31, 2007

Immigration policy adds to widow's woes

By Libby

However you feel about our immigration policies, this is one area that is badly in need of an overhaul.

SAN FRANCISCO - Jacqueline Coats’ husband drowned after he dove into a fierce Pacific Ocean riptide to rescue two boys. Now the immigrant from Kenya might be forced to leave the United States because he died before filing her residency application.

She is among more than 80 foreign-born widows across the nation who face possible deportation because their husbands died before immigration paperwork was approved. Some attorneys want to challenge the government’s policy of rejecting green card requests if an immigrant’s American spouse dies before the application is processed. At least one lawyer plans to file a class-action lawsuit.

In Florida, Pineda’s clients include Dahianna Heard, a Venezuelan woman whose husband was shot last year by insurgents while he worked as a contractor in Iraq. The couple’s son, who is a U.S. citizen, faces an uncertain future if his mother is deported.

It's one thing to crack down on fake marriages entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining green cards but it's beyond the pale that our government would treat widows so heartlessly, especially when their spouses died in the service of our country or in other acts of heroism. But even if the husband's die in less noble circumstances, to break up families over red tape seems particularly inhumane, even for this administration.

We shouldn't need a court battle to change this law, nor should the women be forced to rest their fate on Congressional intervention on a case by case basis. The policy is simply wrong and should be abolished immediately. I can't believe it's even an issue.

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