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Sunday, August 01, 2004

State News - StatesmanJournal.com Oregon widow to be deported, judge rules

State News - StatesmanJournal.com
Oregon widow to be deported, judge rules

Her U.S. husband died less than 2 years after their marriage

The Associated Press
August 1, 2004

The widow of a U.S. citizen must return to her native South Africa because her husband died after less than two years of marriage, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Owen Panner ruled that immigration officials had reasonably interpreted that the two-year rule was firm, and that Carla Arabella Freeman must leave the country because she and her husband, Robert, hadn’t been married long enough before he died in a 2002 car accident.

Panner ordered immigration officials to wait 30 days before deporting Freeman, allowing the woman’s lawyer time to decide whether to take the case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The attorney, Brent Renison of Portland, criticized the decision, saying it “is not what a civilized country does.”

Although the two-year rule doesn’t come into play often, Renison said that immigration attorneys have learned of at least 25 similar cases.

Immigration officials in Georgia, for example, are seeking to deport Olga Bota, a

38-year-old Romanian citizen whose American husband died from stomach cancer in 2000.

Bota has a 4-year-old daughter who is a U.S. citizen, said Cherie Elizabeth Patronis, the Atlanta attorney representing her.

Rubi Dobrenz, who lives in Mount Vernon, Wash., faces deportation to her native Peru because her husband committed suicide shortly after their marriage in early 2000, said Bart Stroupe, her Seattle attorney.

Renison said he is not aware of any federal court that has sided against immigration officials in such cases. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., co-sponsored a bill passed by Congress in 2000 that allowed Suchada Kwong, a native of Thailand, to become a permanent U.S. resident.

Kwong faced deportation after her American husband was killed in a car wreck in Clark County, Wash., in 1996.

Renison said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, has introduced a bill to replace the two-year-rule with a standard that says the marriage must be entered in good faith.

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