Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Illinois Senators trying to help war widow

Todd Engstrom was a civilian contractor working with the Army to train Iraqi forces last year. In September, his convoy came under attack and he was killed. He left behind a 12-year-old son and a wife he'd just married in 2003. His wife, Diana, is from Kosovo where they met and married. She returned to the States with him. Under current immigration law, an immigrant spouse has to be married for 2 years to gain the right to stay in the United States if the US citizen in the marriage dies. As such, Diana Engstrom is subject to deportation.

The 2 Senators from Illinois - and yes, that includes the infamous "Gitmo Dick" Durbin - are introducing legislation to allow her to stay. I find Senator Obama's comments compelling:

::::::::In recent years, Congress has been reluctant to pass bills designed to benefit a single individual, and mostly they deal with immigration issues. Of the 132 so-called "private relief" bills introduced in the last Congress, only six became law.

"Generally, it's a bad idea to identify a single individual and do a piece of legislation for them," said Obama, "but this is such a heartbreaking story and it speaks to a lot of civilians who are essentially working on behalf of the war effort in Iraq."

Obama added that Engstrom case falls into "a gray area," since Todd Engstrom was a civilian acting as a U.S. military operative.

"We are going to be taking a look to see if we should be passing some more general laws to close this very narrow loophole," Obama added.

I'm with Obama on this one. I don't think it's a good idea to pass a law to benefit a single person in our society - that's an inefficient method of governance - but I think this is an exceptional case that should be granted.