Family Issues

But I Don't Even Speak Armenian!

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The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Office is sending Arthur Mkoyan—who graduates soon from high school at the top of his class—and his family back to Armenia, even though neither he nor his younger brother speak Armenian:

"I haven't been in Armenia since I was 2, so I don't really know anything about the place," said Arthur Mkoyan, 17. "All I've seen is just videos my mom has watched on the Internet."

[T]he academic skills he has displayed in Fresno may not easily translate to college in Armenia. Arthur said he understands only a few words of Armenian.

Mkoyan's family fled Armenia after his family's house was set on fire as an act of political retribution. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that that wasn't a good enough reason to keep the family in the U.S.

They arrived in the United States in 1995 on six-month tourist visas, according to Virginia Kice, a public information officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The family settled in Fresno, where [father Ruben] Mkoian [who spells his name differently than his son] worked as a truck driver and his wife worked in a jewelry store. They set about living their lives, which soon included a younger brother for Arthur.

But after the visas expired, the family's application to remain in the United States was denied. In 2002, an immigration judge ruled that they had no legal basis to remain in the country, Kice said.

After their application to the Board of Immigration Appeals was rejected, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year denied their petition for a hearing.

The court was unpersuaded by the father's assertion that he might still be subject to reprisal if he were to return.

For more reason on this phenomenon, click here, especially if you're capable of sniffing out the irony of deporting a 4.0 student with no criminal record while sparing a convicted felon.