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Immigration

Yoder Attending State Of The Union With Widow Of Immigrant Man Killed In Hate Crime

sunayana_dumala_kcur.jpg
Laura Ziegler
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KCUR 89.3/File photo

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder will attend Tuesday night’s State of the Union address with Sunayana Dumala, the widow of the Indian man killed in an alleged hate crime at a bar in Olathe nearly a year ago.

Dumala’s husband was an engineer at Garmin, and she was in the U.S. under his visa. But when he died, Yoder says, there was a major problem.

“When she went home to her husband’s funeral, she didn’t know if she would be able to come back into the country," Yoder says. "And if she had been from any other country but India, she would already have been an American citizen.”

Because India sends many more people to the U.S. than most countries, the wait for Indians to get a green card is many times longer, often decades. Dumala needed the intervention of a congressman to stay.

Yoder has filed legislation to lift per-country quotas and reduce the immigration backlog. He says the bill has more than 300 co-sponsors, but doesn’t know if it will be part of immigration reform this year.

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Frank Morris is a national NPR correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.