U.S. Immigration Law: December 2007 Archives

Update below - 12/20/07 10:58 EST

From the website of Surviving Spouses Against Deportation:


Marlin Coats didn't hesitate to jump in the water to try to save two drowning teens caught in a riptide at San Francisco Beach Park.  He lost his life that Mother's Day in 2006, but because of his heroism those two teenagers survived.  So why is the U.S. now responding to Coats' ultimate sacrifice by deporting his wife Jacqueline Coats?

U.S. Army contractor Todd Engstrom of Illinois gave his life for his country when he was killed in Iraq, and now the federal government is telling his wife Diana she too must go.  And so must Dahianna Heard of Florida, whose husband Jeffrey Heard was shot in the head by insurgents in Iraq.  What will happen to their children?

Because of a flaw in the law, women and men who entered this country legally are facing deportation when their spouses die during the lengthy administrative visa process.  There are scores of these cases across the country affecting women, mothers and children.

The "widow penalty" is an obscure interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that puts widows or widowers of U.S. citizens at risk of deportation if they have not been married for at least two years and are waiting for an application for permanent residence (the "green card") to be approved.  I say it's an "interpretation" of the INA because several federal courts that have ruled on the issue have disagreed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) interpretation of the statute.  More on this below.

**contact your Senators and Congressional Representatives to end the widow penalty**

Updated below: 12/13/07 5:50 p.m.

One portion of the Q&A from the USCIS National Stakeholder Meeting on December 4, 2007, addressed the issue of how an applicant for some immigration benefit (like a green card or work permit) could notify the government of an address change as required by law if a notice acknowledging receipt of the application had not yet been sent to the applicant due to large backlogs stemming from this summer's fee increase.  The receipt notice contains a tracking number that USCIS uses to update an applicant's file with the new address.  Without the tracking number to process the address change, USCIS could have difficulty getting in touch with an applicant with information about the case, and in theory, a case could be denied if an applicant did not show up to a fingerprint appointment or otherwise respond to USCIS's instructions.  Here is the exchange (pdf):

Question: The instructions on the USCIS website for change of address in cases where the person has yet to receive a receipt number are very confusing. This question was posed last month and the answer given was to look at the website. Are there any other suggestions you can provide for people who do not have receipt numbers? (The website says to look on the back of the cashed check for the receipt number, but many clients with receipt delays have not had their checks cashed.)

Response: USCIS is working to update the information currently on the website concerning receipt delays and change of address information to make it more clear. Thank you for your feedback. If a customer has a pending application but has not yet received a receipt notice they must call the national customer service number at 1-800-375-5283 to request a change of address. When the customer calls the national customer service number they should specifically state that they have a pending application, have not yet received a receipt notice but would like to change their address. They should also be prepared to tell the customer service representative when they mailed in their application. The customer service representative will then issue a service request which will be routed to a service center having jurisdiction over that application The applicant will receive a letter acknowledging the completion of their change of address request once his/her application is receipted and the change of address has been updated. Customers are required to complete a Form AR-11, notifying DHS that their address has changed. An AR-11 can be completed on-line without a receipt number.

All clear now?  

Updated below - 12/11/07 6:10 p.m.

Marisa Treviño at Latina Lista wasn't shy about calling out the Republican candidates for a suspicious confluence of scheduling conflicts that prevented all but one of them from committing to a Univision debate earlier this year.  Por ejemplo:

It's very telling that the strongest advocate who hasn't been afraid to speak out for the Hispanic voters to his Republican colleagues is none other than Karl Rove.

Donde estan los demas?

"Where are the rest?"  Lo and behold, last night all the GOP candidates but one dutifully appeared on Univision in front of a Latino audience broadcast to millions across the country.  I guess someone in scheduling got the message that a debate targeted to a key constituency in danger of being lost completely to the GOP in 2008 was a higher priority than forever attempting to placate the implacable, one-note restrictionist wing of the party. 

On immigration lately, the GOP primary campaign might as well have been composed of Ron Paul, John McCain, and six Tancredos, for all the policy difference there has been between them. 

That changed a little on Sunday night at the Univision debate, if only temporarily. 

Salto - show jumping.jpg

[Image: uploaded by schlupcav to Flickr]

There’s this thing about rich people.  They need poor people to work for them.  In this country, often those poor people are immigrants.  Some of those immigrants may not have their papers in order.  But the richer you are, the harder it’s going to be to avoid employing some immigrant labor that is not work authorized (a concept that didn’t even exist in the U.S. until 1986).

Cause and Effect

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Speaking of yesterday's debate, and the consequences of dangerous questions, today on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman is speaking with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center about the increase in hate crimes against latinos.

On the bright side, New York is trying to make it easier and safer for immigrants to report crimes.

Gracias a Nezua y Tomás.

Via Nezua comes word of a proposed reality TV game show show called "Who Wants to Marry a U.S. Citizen" that "aims to create televised matrimony between legal citizens and immigrants who have temporary visas."

The show's backers at Morusa Media hope to make a sort of love match between reality TV and a national obsession with immigration. But the producers make no promise that a marriage will occur or lead to U.S. citizenship.

That's partly because any marriage that resulted from a game show with marriage to a U.S. citizen as the prize would lead to a strong presumption that the marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of circumventing the country's immigration laws--hence, no green card.  

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the U.S. Immigration Law category from December 2007.

U.S. Immigration Law: January 2008 is the next archive.

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