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Monday, November 24, 2008

Widows of Americans Face Deportation

This week on CBS, 60 Minutes aired a special report titled “Loss of Love and Country”. The focus of the report was the pending deportation of foreign born spouses of U.S. Citizens that passed away before they were able to complete their applications for citizenship.

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.

For more details on the report, visit



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