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News Release Template Image

October 10, 2001

Families of Victims of Terrorist Attacks

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner James W. Ziglar announced today that families of victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon whose immigrant or non-immigrant status was dependent on the victim’s status should not be concerned about facing immediate removal from the United States.  The Commissioner noted, “The INS will exercise its discretion in a compassionate way toward families of victims during this time of mourning and readjustment.  On September 19, we began to advise our offices to exercise compassionate discretion in these circumstances.”

The Commissioner expressed concern about a recent report of a British woman fearing removal due to the loss of her husband in the World Trade Center attack.  The Commissioner noted that the woman was told at a September 27 meeting with INS officials in Newark, New Jersey that she was not facing removal and was offered deferred action, which would allow her to remain in the United States and to receive work authorization.

The Commissioner emphasized that the facts of this case created an unfortunate timing situation.  The woman’s husband was in the United States on an HI-B non-immigrant work visa that expired in August based on the six-year statutory limitation for such visas.  Her husband applied for an “0” non-immigrant visa in late July 2001.  On September 13, 2001, the Vermont INS Service Center mailed a routine letter to her husband’s attorney requesting information regarding the husband’s eligibility for an “0” visa.  The Service Center was unaware that the applicant was missing in the World Trade Center attack.  However, when INS was made aware of her situation, it immediately exercised its discretion and granted deferred action for humanitarian reasons.

On Friday, October 5, 2001, the Commissioner visited New York to reiterate his call for undocumented aliens and employers who have lost friends, family members or employees in the terrorist attacks to contact local authorities to assist in identifying victims and the missing without fear of INS seeking such information.  The Commissioner noted during a press conference in New York that INS is developing a policy for the handling of immigration cases that may have been affected by the September 11 attack.

- INS -


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