Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Widow of U.S. Soldier fighting for deportation.

The widow of a Galva man killed in Iraq in 2004 who has been fighting deportation for more than three years will tell her story on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

Todd Engstrom, a 1987 Galva High School graduate, was killed in September 2004 near Fallujah, Iraq. Engstrom, 35, who was working as a private contractor for the Army, died when his convoy was bombed. His mission was training Iraqi security forces.

Diana Engstrom of Athens met Todd in Kosovo while he was there with U.N. peacekeeping forces. They were married Dec. 29, 2003. After their marriage, the Engstroms filed paperwork to gain permanent U.S. resident status for Diana. But Todd's death halted that process, because he could no longer be his wife's residency sponsor.

According to family members, Diana is scheduled to appear on "60 Minutes" with Todd's parents, Ron and Cindy Engstrom, formerly of Galva, now of Athens. The family, including Todd's grandparents, John and Pully Engstrom of Alpha, have been working to help Diana stay in the United States.

It seems unfair to deport someone just because they miss an arbitrary date. Families have been torn apart by this law and it should be changed.

Under current immigration law, an immigrant spouse of a citizen automatically faces deportation if their spouse dies less than two years after their marriage and before the survivor's permanent residency application was approved. (See, 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i)).

The bill would allow a spouse in this situation to avoid deportation by proving, "by a preponderance of the evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit." While the bill was considered non-controversial, one member of the committee, Steve King (R-IA), voiced concerns.
Rep. King, while agreeing with the sentiment of the bill, thought more protections were needed to ensure immigrant spouses have good moral character. He told the committee, "A soldier, man or woman, could get drunk in Bangkok, wake up in the morning and be married, as will happen sometimes in places like Las Vegas or Bangkok, be killed the next day, and the spouse who was a product of the evening's celebration would have then a right to claim access to come to the United States on a green card." (Des Moines Register, July 18, 2008) King offered an amendment requiring the married couple to have shared a residence together in the United States, but the amendment was ruled as non-germane by Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), and therefore could not be considered by the committee

It just shows you that when you have rhe rule of law so strictly, you forget the human element. Who would have thought when they wrote this law, that you'd have a situation where someone's married less than two years, dies protecting people from our country, but not in the armed services? The laws didn't consider those options, and that happens so many times when you're dealing with immigration questions."

Barack Obama, have co-sponsored a bill to grant Diana Engstrom permanent residency. Their legislation suspends the deportation process while the two senators round up votes.

In recent years, Congress has been reluctant to pass bills designed to benefit a single individual, and mostly they deal with immigration issues. Of the 132 so-called "private relief" bills introduced in the last Congress, only six became law

60 Minutes" airs at 6 p.m. Sunday

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