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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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Comments (15)

I am pleasantly surprised t... (Below threshold)

I am pleasantly surprised today at the tone of your two immigration pieces. There's some hope for you yet!

The Pink Flamingo

The utter absurdity is simp... (Below threshold)

The utter absurdity is simply amazing. For every Dahianna Heard, there are hundreds of illegals that came here with the intention of being here illegally. When they are caught committing a crime, ICE is not interested in deporting them, so local authorities play catch and release.

We need to lock down our borders, get rid of the illegals that are here, and make the process of immigration easier and faster for those who want to do it the right way!

She is illegal! Are you gu... (Below threshold)

She is illegal! Are you guys getting soft? Next thing you know al Qaeda will plant sleeper arab whores to marry and kill our soldiers.

Wake-up America!!!!!

What, the bureaucracy is ab... (Below threshold)
Master Shake:

What, the bureaucracy is able to reconsider? But I thought we had to abandon any prospect of securing our borders because of this situation. You mean the amnesty-supporters were lying to us?

Some people truly are anti-... (Below threshold)

Some people truly are anti-immigrant but most of the people complaining about illegal immigration are pro-immigrant.

They just don't like to see people who try to play by the rules punished and people who ignore the rules rewarded.

Barney, your cell phone mus... (Below threshold)

Barney, your cell phone must be off. Your therapist called. It turns out he can fit you in tomorrow, 9:00am. Bring any unused meds to the appointment.

These ladies should raise h... (Below threshold)

These ladies should raise hell with their Senators and Congressmen, too. Go on local news and lay it out there for all to see--your government, your immigration service, pretty much preys on widows in line for a green card.

Jesus, what have we come to in this country?

Barney The issue i... (Below threshold)


The issue is illegal vs legal immigration. These women started the paperwork they did everything legal and when their husbands die for this country they should be able to stay. We often say that our men and women make the supreme sacrifice and no one feels it more than their family. Due consideration should be given to them.

Barney do you even understand what is involved with this process of getting a non immigrant visa , or green card? She has had to get a background check with local and international police, she had to have medical screening, and paid money not to mention getting interview about her personal life and being asked very intimate questions.

I am a naturalized American Citizen who served in the Navy and married a foreign national so I know the process. Some one want to come to the US do it the right way if they are process and their husband dies they should be allowed to stay.

If they sneak across the border they should be kicked out.

The only exception are the Cubans but We know how liberal treat them. They get heavily armed troops to hold an MP-5 to child's head and take them out of the country.

"The Heards had been marrie... (Below threshold)

"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."

8 months plus 3 months equal 11 months. Yep, 11 months in a year. Great reporting and fact checking there.

What's your point, engineer... (Below threshold)

What's your point, engineer? A minor error in addition makes the whole piece suspect? Get your ass down from around your shoulders. You don't look good in fur.

Good let her stay here in a... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Good let her stay here in america and become a naturalisned american citizen

Whaaa, whaaa.....goes Jempt... (Below threshold)

Whaaa, whaaa.....goes Jempty. Intellectually impotent and not a patriot to boot!

Deportation today. Deportation tomorrow. Deportation forever. Is that too harsh for you Billy Boy?

Wake up idiot. Mexico (and Latinos in general but specifically Mexico) has a plan. It's to send tens of millions of their people here and remain loyal to the toilet known as Mexico. It's called an invasion and the liberals on the left and right don't seem to have a problem with it. Chicken-sh**s.

Most, repeat most Americans want illegal immigration stopped and even a small majority wants legal immigration reduced.

"We're a nation of immigrants"? Oh yeah, anyone care to debate me on that point?

Nessus-"Most, r... (Below threshold)


"Most, repeat most Americans want illegal immigration stopped and even a small majority wants legal immigration reduced."

I would debate you if I thought it were worth the time. Your bombastic comment has nothing to do with the plight of a war widow with a family to consider. There's a big difference between illegal criminals jumping the border, or welfare moochers and people as a commenter stated above, that "play by the rules." I still like to view the U.S. as a compassionate nation with common sense.

Nessus is an idiot, next po... (Below threshold)

Nessus is an idiot, next post please. Move along, don't linger watching the idiot slobber on himself. Pathetic.

Some conservative bloggers ... (Below threshold)

Some conservative bloggers who have voiced opposition to or outrage over the widow penalty include

Fellow Wizbang contributor Jim Addison
Ed at Captain's Quarters
James Joyner at Outside the Beltway

As Jim once said

"It seems to me that if an alien spouse has a legitimate, lawful application in processing when the citizen spouse dies, it should be processed as if the citizen spouse were still alive. IOW, if it would have been approved had he/she lived, it should be approved after he/she dies. If it would have been declined anyway, it should be declined.

We're not talking about millions of people here. It wouldn't hurt us in any way, and would be the fair and just approach. Those who have followed the rules should not be penalized for "acts of God."

Ed wrote- "If ICE cannot make an exemption for Dahianna, then she will have to return to Venezuela and the Hugo Chavez regime, a particularly galling outcome for the widow of a man who died serving freedom. She will take Jeffrey's child with her and out of the country Jeffrey protected in several different phases of his life. Surely this cannot be justice."

Few people who learn of the widow penalty, support it once they learn of it. They goes for people on either side of the political spectrum.






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