War widow may not be deported after all

Dahianna Heard, wife of Jeffrey Heard a contractor killed in Iraq, won a small victory in her fight against ‘The Widow Penalty‘. From the Orlando Sentinel

A Central Florida war widow who was facing deportation after her husband was killed in Iraq may not have to return to Venezuela after all.

Immigration officials had an apparent change of heart and notified Dahianna Heard and her attorney that they would process her legal residency petition, after reviewing her dead husband’s military-service record.

Heard’s ordeal started shortly after her American husband, Jeffrey Heard of Casselberry, was killed in spring 2006 — during an ambush by insurgents in Fallujah, where the U.S. Army veteran was working as a contractor in a support role to combat troops.

She struggled to stay in the U.S. with her infant son, an American-born child that the couple had before disaster struck.

The Heards had been married one year, eight months and 11 days at the time of his death, less than three months short of a strict two-year immigration requirement to grant visas in such cases. Their son, Bryan, was only 1 when his dad was killed.

Her case’s rejection meant Heard had become an undocumented immigrant, subject to deportation.

But her attorney got the call last week from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official.

A letter arrived shortly after.


The decision to go forth with her case does not mean that Heard will automatically receive the “green card” that authorizes her to live permanently in the country, but it means that she is on track to receive it if no other impediments arise.

I’ve blogged about Dahianna Heard on multiple occasions. The most recent post is here.

Mrs. Heard isn’t safe yet, CIS can still deny her petition. I don’t trust the agency to not do just that. That’s what happened to Carla Freeman, and now Mrs. Freeman is barred from ever setting foot in this country again. Mrs. Heard, and the 80 or so other women like her, only crime was that their husbands died before their immigration paperwork was finished. A process, as I have pointed out before, that can take a year or more. These women who have filed a class action lawsuit as a last resort, were married to US citizens and tried to legally immigrate here, and have gotten screwed by the system. With the help of the US courts, this travesty may finally end.

The Widow Penalty dates back to 1970, the matter of Varela. The widow of a servicemen who died while serving in the Navy was deported. That’s the grounds for INS and then CIS conduct up till now. The spouses of US service people killed in Iraq are safe, but widows of contractors or servicemen not killed in a war zone, aren’t. Their husbands put their life on the line for this country, so only after they die their spouse can be deported. It is outrageous, and I think most of you would agree with me. Some of you may disagree with me when I say the entire ‘The Widow Penalty’ is a travesty. How many women weren’t as fortunate as Dahianna Heard may turn out being? Thousands is my guess. How many widows of US service people has this country deported since 1970? Even if it was only one, it should make you sick to your stomach. Its long past time to end The Widow Penalty.

Note- I have put quite a few links in this post. This in order to back up what I’m writing, if any Wizbang readers question what I’m saying, but also to help educate people about ‘The Widow Penalty’.

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