The widow of a Billings man killed this month by two hit-and-run drivers has been arrested on an immigration violation and is in the county jail awaiting deportation.
Karen Battersby was arrested Monday by federal immigration officials who say she and her common-law husband, Alan Marshall, remained illegally in the United States after their six-month visitor status expired five years ago.
"We certainly don't mean to add any more hardship to the young lady, but we are bound by statute" to deport her, said Jim Clardy, assistant chief of the U.S. Border Patrol office in Havre.
Marshall, 46, was killed Feb. 1 while walking on 48th Street West. Authorities say Marshall was struck by two vehicles, whose drivers both drove off.
A man authorities say was driving the second car was arrested within minutes of the accident. The 38-year-old Billings man was released a few days later after prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to charge him.
The Montana Highway Patrol continues to look for the driver of the first vehicle.
Battersby and Marshall came to the United States from Scotland in 1996 on a six-month visa waiver program, Clardy said. The program allows residents of some foreign countries to enter the United States without a visa if they agree to limit their stay to six months.
Participants in the program cannot be employed in the United States and agree to give up all rights to appeal their immigration status, Clardy said.
Battersby is subject to deportation because she violated federal immigration law by staying longer than six months under the visa waiver program, Clardy said. She also was employed and had fraudulently obtained a Social Security card, he said.
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Marshall and Battersby considered themselves married by common law, but the federal government does not recognize common-law marriages for immigration purposes, Clardy said.
Marshall's obituary states that he and Battersby were married 18 years. The couple had no children or dependents together, Clardy said. A Billings attorney is helping Battersby make arrangements for her property, including the couple's two cats, Clardy said.
A message left for her attorney Tuesday was not returned.
Border Patrol officials in Billings began investigating Marshall and Battersby six to eight weeks ago, before Marshall's death, Clardy said. Federal immigration officials across the country have been investigating such cases more closely since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Clardy said.
Federal agents decided to postpone Battersby's arrest after learning of Marshall's death, Clardy said.
"We approached this very cautiously because of the tragic incident," he said.
Clardy said Battersby will be deported to Scotland soon, but he declined to say when.
"This isn't a punitive action or a prosecution. This is a removal action," he said. "She will be deported to Scotland."