Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Widow Penalty.

This video show a segment on a quirk in US immigration law which at the moment is the subject of a class action. Legal immigrant spouses of US citizens whose immigration paperwork is still being processed, or who haven’t been married at least two years to their husband or wife, face deportation due to what some call ‘The Widow Penalty’

Everybody loves a love story - everybody it seems, except the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. In our post-9/11 world, immigration has become increasingly tough on, of all groups, widows.

A foreigner who marries a U.S. citizen is entitled to become a U.S. resident. But as correspondent Bob Simon reports, immigration wants to deport several hundred widows-and a few widowers-foreigners who had been married to American citizens when the Americans died.

Immigration claims basically that a widow is not a wife, and that if the widow did not complete the process to become a U.S. resident while her husband was alive, she cannot remain in the country.
If that sounds a little strange, wait till you hear what happened to Raquel Williams when she met up with immigration

It was once an honored rule that a foreign born immigrant who marries a U.S. citizen was entitled to become a U.S. resident. That concept is is not as straight forward as it once was. The Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says that if an immigrant spouse doesn’t complete their application while the citizen spouse is alive, they cannot remain in the country.

Listening to the stories of the widows, it becomes apparent that it is often not possible for a spouse to complete an application while their wife or husband are still alive. And, though they may have been in the process already, many widows who have lost their spouse are still facing deportation.

Taking their case against before the courts, a group of widows being denied citizenship won. In fact, four courts ruled in favor of the widows, however, the Department of Homeland Security continues to appeal the cases at taxpayer expense.

Why CIS making this such an issue? They argue that although a foreign born spouse is eligible for citizenship, they don't consider a widow a spouse. They cite Black’s Law Dictionary, which defines spouse as "a married person”. However, as the 60 Minutes report points out, the court sided on behalf of the widows because same law dictionary defines a surviving spouse as "one who outlives the other".

The Department of Homeland Security refused a request for an interview from CBS News, leaving the public to speculate why these widowed spouses and their families are left in limbo.
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