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Kuchibhotla murder: Widow faced deportation from US after losing resident status

Republican congressman Kevin Yoder and others stepped in help Sunayana Dumala get a one-year visa so that she would not be deported from the US after losing her resident status.

Updated: Sep 12, 2017 08:09 IST

In this undated file photo, Srinivas Kuchibhotla (right) poses with his wife Sunayana Dumala. Kuchibhotla was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani was injured when a white man yelled racial slurs and opened fire at them in a bar in Kansas in February 2017. (AP)

The widow of Indian national Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot and killed in a suspected hate crime in Kansas in February, faced deportation from the US after her husband’s murder till a lawmaker and others helped her get a one-year visa.

Sunayana Dumala lost her US resident status after Kuchibhotla was gunned down in a bar in Olathe, Kansas, on February 22 by a man who shouted racial slurs before he opened fire.

Kevin Yoder, a Republican member of the house of representatives, said he became “apoplectic” when he heard the news and began working to help Dumala maintain her residency after she travelled to Hyderabad for her husband’s funeral and feared she would be unable to return to the US.

“We are not going to deport the widow of the victim of a hate crime,” Yoder was quoted as saying by The Kansas City Star.

With the help of Yoder and others, Dumala was granted a one-year visa to resume work at a marketing agency in Overland Park.

In a Facebook post, Yoder wrote about Dumala losing her husband in a “senseless murder no one should ever have to endure”. He added that Dumala also faced the prospect of having to return to India because of her visa status. “Thankfully, we were able to help her stay for now and are working towards a permanent fix...,” he wrote.

But Yoder also said more will have to be done to prevent Dumala’s deportation and help her secure permanent residency.

At a time when the Trump administration is cracking down on migrants, Yoder is the lead sponsor of a bill that could speed up permanent resident status of well-educated immigrants from India, China and other highly populated countries who face strict limits in acquiring green cards, The Star reported.

Sunayana Dumala with congressman Kevin Yoder. ( Facebook )

In an email sent to The Star, Dumala wrote: “On the fateful night of Feb 22, I not only lost my husband but also my immigration status...I’m very fortunate that many people came to my rescue to get me back on a temporary status...and are continuing to work on a permanent fix.”

Dumala has lived in the US since she enrolled in a Minnesota college in 2007. She married Kuchibhotla, a technical engineer, in 2012 and they applied for a green card on his H-1B visa.

Adam Purinton, the man accused of killing Kuchibhotla and injuring his colleague Alok Madasani, was indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime charges in June. Purinton had shouted "get out of my country" before he opened fire.

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