US Killing in Kansas Bar Put Victim’s Widow at Risk of Deportation

02:22  14 september  2017
02:22  14 september  2017 Source:   The New York Times

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So along with dealing with the horror of his sudden death, she also had to face the fact that the man who shot him may have managed to put her at risk of deportation . Related Coverage. He Became a Hate Crime Victim . She Became a Widow . JULY 8, 2017.

The widow of the man who was killed in a suspected hate crime at a suburban Kansas City bar seemed to be headed toward deportation until a congressman heard about her plight and helped “We are not going to deport the widow of the victim of a hate crime,” Yoder told the Kansas City Star.

The death of Sunayana Dumala’s husband put her immigration status in doubt.© Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times The death of Sunayana Dumala’s husband put her immigration status in doubt.

In February, Sunayana Dumala lost her husband to a man who shouted “Get out of my country!” and unloaded a semiautomatic pistol in a Kansas bar.

Ms. Dumala’s immigration status was tied to that of her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, one of two Indian-born engineers shot that day. So along with dealing with the horror of his sudden death, she also had to face the fact that the man who shot him may have managed to put her at risk of deportation.

Mr. Kuchibhotla was in the United States on an H-1B visa. Upon his death, Ms. Dumala’s residency status was terminated. And when she went to India to attend his funeral, she feared that she might not be able to re-enter the United States.

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The widow of an Indian national who was fatally shot at a suburban Kansas City bar in an alleged hate crime was facing deportation until a Kansas congressman and others stepped in to help her get a one-year visa.

The widow of an Indian national who was fatally shot at a suburban Kansas City bar in an alleged hate crime was facing deportation until a Kansas congressman and others stepped in to help her get a one-year visa.

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It was also unclear whether she would want to. In an emotional Facebook post shortly after the shooting, she posed a question that she said “is in every immigrant’s mind: Do we belong here?”

Her congressman, Kevin Yoder, a Republican from Kansas’ third district, was “horrified” by the shooting, and pushed President Trump to condemn it in a joint address to Congress. Upon learning of Ms. Dumala’s immigration issues, he and his staff began looking at ways to assist her.

“It would have been a real tragedy, on top of the initial tragedy she suffered, to attend her husband’s funeral in India and then be locked out of the U.S. because of it,” Mr. Yoder said in an interview on Wednesday. “This woman suffered enough. We need to fix this.”

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Mr. Kuchibhotla was sharing drinks with a colleague and friend, Alok Madasani, at a favorite bar in Olathe when a man sitting nearby began to question their visa status and whether they were in the country illegally.

The man, Adam W. Purinton, was thrown out of the bar. But he returned with a firearm and began shooting, killing Mr. Kuchibhotla and injuring Mr. Madasani, along with another customer who attempted to intervene. In June, Mr. Purinton was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime charges.

Ms. Dumala, a developer for Intouch Solutions, a pharmaceutical marketing agency, left the United States for Hyderabad, India, at the end of February.

Mr. Yoder’s office, working on Ms. Dumala’s behalf, helped her return about a month later and obtain a 12-month employment authorization document that will grant her the time she needs to apply for her own H-1B visa. She is also applying for a U visa, which is granted to victims of some crimes.

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The congressman, who has taken the hard line on immigration typical of many Republicans in the past, has used the precariousness of Ms. Dumala’s situation to argue for immigration reform. Currently, immigration law dictates that only 7 percent of the green cards issued each year can be given to residents of any one country.

Mr. Yoder noted that between 230,000 and two million Indian workers are in line for a green card, which means that they could be waiting for decades, if not longer.

“Many of us think this is an injustice, it’s discriminatory, and the system is failing people like Srinivas and Sunayana,” he said.

He also argues that the law should explicitly address people whose spouses are the targets of hate crimes.

“I think we ought to have a special exception,” he said. “You don’t get deported because your husband was murdered. They don’t come and grab you at a funeral and say, ‘Now you’ve lost your status.’”

Ms. Dumala has added her voice to the push for the measure. And the help she has received from the congressman, her and her husband’s employers, and the F.B.I. has gone part of the way toward changing her ambivalence about whether people like her can live safely in the United States.

“A lot has happened in the last few months,” she said, when asked if she still questioned whether she belonged. “And one incident does not portray what the entire country stands for, which was evident when people from different communities came forward to lend their support in the time of tragedy and grief.”

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