Thursday, October 19, 2006

The DHS at Work -- The Story of Carla Freeman

Believe it or not!  When Carla Freeman asked Citizenship and Immigration Services to do the humane -- and reasonable -- thing after her husband died in a traffic accident, immigration officials clamped leg shackles on the widow and moved to throw her out of the country without a hearing. When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Citizenship and Immigration Services to do the right thing, the agency got its back up, basically telling Freeman to get lost and the Ninth Circuit to get a clue. "This is a rogue decision, issued by people who feel they can do anything," says Brent Renison, Freeman's lawyer. And you have to wonder how long it's going to take for someone to step up and prove them wrong. Freeman, 28, married Robert Glen Freeman in 2001 and buried him a year later on a hill above the Snake River. A dual citizen of South Africa and Italy at her wedding, Freeman had an application for permanent resident status pending when a Pepsi delivery truck crossed an Indiana center lane and killed her husband. She moved to the Northwest after the funeral. In May 2002, immigration officials in Portland denied her application, arguing that she hadn't been married for the two years required by federal law, and prepared to catapult her from the country. Enter the 9th Circuit. In April, the court ruled the agency's reading of the law was as tortured as its treatment of a grieving widow. The two-year statute, the court said, was meant to serve as a window of opportunity to seek citizenship, not a minimum prerequisite of marital bliss. It ordered the immigration service to get its house in order and told Freeman she was cleared to pursue permanent resident status.   Click here for more of Carla's story.

The judgment of the court in Freeman v. Gonzales, 444 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2006) became final on August 3, 2006, after the court denied the government's request to amend the judgment.  for various uodates on the case from the law firm that handled the matter for Freeman, click here.


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