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Public Statements

Obama, Durbin Introduce Bill in Senate to Keep War Widow from Being Deported

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Location: Washington, DC


OBAMA, DURBIN INTRODUCE BILL IN SENATE TO KEEP WAR WIDOW FROM BEING DEPORTED
REP. EVANS INTRODUCES COMPANION BILL IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced a private relief bill in the U.S. Senate to grant Diana Engstrom permanent resident status rather than allow her to be deported. Congressman Lane Evans (D-17th) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In September 2004, Todd Engstrom was killed in Iraq where he was working with the U.S. Army to train Iraqi security forces near Fallujah. Before leaving for Iraq, Todd sponsored his wife Diana's efforts to gain residency in the United States. Since Todd's death, Diana has no sponsor and, by law, no once can step in to replace him. Without a sponsor to allow her to continue with this process, she will be deported. Had Todd been a member of the military and not a contractor, Diana's application process would have continued.

Diana met Todd Engstrom in her native Kosovo when he was there training U.N. peace-keeping forces. They were married in December 2003 in Athens, Illinois. Diana and Todd applied for permanent residence in the U.S. for Diana soon after they were married.

"The spirit of the law clearly intends to protect people like Diana," said Durbin. "But the circumstances of her case require Congress to intervene so that she may stay in the United States. That's what we hope to do with this bill. It is the least we can do to repay the family of Todd Engstrom, a brave American who was killed working to bring peace and security to Iraq."

"Todd Engstrom served his country bravely by training Iraqi security forces with the U.S. Army near Fallujah," said Obama. "Before he left, he asked Diana to promise that if something bad were to happen to him, she would help raise his son Dalton. I believe that Diana should be given the chance to honor that wish."

"The Engstrom's lost one family member," Evans said. "They shouldn't lose another. Diana deserves the right to stay here."

http://obama.senate.gov/press/

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