The Widow Penalty was brought to my attention by a friend whose brother died after being married for just under two years. In addition to the sudden heartache of losing her husband, his wife is now in danger of being deported because she was not scheduled for a green card before her second wedding anniversary. Her American-born son, however, can remain on American soil.
This is not a poorly written script of a made-for-TV movie—this is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service at work. Because of this obscure loophole in legislation, the courts are expending much time and energy to deport law-abiding, tax-paying women and men who have lost their spouses because the administrative process of obtaining a visa took too long.
Please visit the website for Surviving Spouses Against Deportation and call or send a letter to your congress representative (it takes less than 90 seconds). If you still can’t believe this is for real, or if you’d just like to learn more about it, there is a great This American Life interview with my friend’s sister-in-law. And 60 Minutes will be airing the story in the fall.