Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Flicker of Fairness

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a two-year, temporary policy freeze that impacts the widows and widowers of U.S citizens. The interpretation of the existing federal immigration directive has meant that spouses of deceased U.S.-born citizens have been routinely denied the opportunity to stay in their new country; most of them face deportation.

This recent reprieve allows for the opportunity to pursue permanent residency even if the primary petitioner has passed away. According to DHS Secretary Napolitano, “Granting deferred action to the widows and widowers of U.S. citizens who otherwise would have been denied the right to remain in the United States allows these individuals and their children an opportunity to stay in the country that has become their home while their legal status is resolved."

This temporary shift helps alleviate some of the fear and uncertainty faced by widows or widowers who formed families, remained in the U.S., and created a new life but continue to be trapped by their uncertain future. While a hopeful first step, this latest action remains a limited solution that should be abandoned when Congress develops substantive and humane changes to the existing immigration system.

For now, this needed policy change portends a better tomorrow for those who have already lost too much in the process of making the U.S. their new home.

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