‘Get out’

After hate-motivated killing of her husband, woman faced possible deportation

Sunayana Dumala sits in front of a shrine built by her late husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla, at their home in Olathe, Kan., May 22, 2017. (Alyssa Schukar/The New York Times)

After an Indian immigrant’s husband was murdered in a Kansas bar by a man screaming, “Get out of my country,” she found herself facing possible deportation because her husband’s death had caused his visa to be terminated, according to a New York Times report.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian-born engineer, was in the U.S. on an H-1B visa when a trip to the bar with a colleague ended after an enraged man harangued the two friends about whether they were in the country illegally and then shot them with a semi-automatic pistol. In wake of her husband’s murder, Sunayana Dumala wrote on Facebook that she was unsure whether immigrants such as herself could ever really belong in the U.S. And thanks to U.S. visa laws that ended her husband’s residency status upon his death, she almost didn’t even have a choice.

Congressman Kevin Yoder, a Republican representing Kansas’ third district, in which Dumala resided, had previously been more of an opponent to immigrants than a friend. But after hearing that Dumala might find herself barred from reentering the U.S. after leaving for India to attend her husband’s funeral, he helped her to return home and to obtain a 12-month employment authorization document to give her time to apply for an H-1B visa of her own. Yoder is now working to reform immigration law to ensure that similar miscarriages of justice can be avoided — as well as to change a legal stipulation that only allows seven percent of green cards issued each year to come from residents of any one country, forcing hundreds of thousands of Indian workers to wait for decades to obtain green cards.

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

Dumala, for her part, says the show of support has changed her mind on whether she belongs in the U.S. Speaking with The New York Times, she shared her thoughts on what America represents, and how people inside and outside of her community responded to the tragedy of her husband’s death.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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