Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Immigrant Story -- of Family Disunification?

Immigration profs often repeat to their students that one of the primary purposes of the U.S. immigration laws is family reuinification.  That, however, is not always how the law operates, as this story form Northeast pennsylvania illustrates.

Zekri "Zack" Paputchi, owner of The Old Mill Run Pizzeria in Sciota, Pennsylvania, is fighting to stop the deportation of his wife, Rukie, who, like Zack, is a native Bulgarian.  After nearly 16 years in this country, she was arrested, put in county jail, and is facing deportation -- all after many years serving pizzas, giving birth to her two children, and having an unblemished criminal record in the United States.

Zack Paputchi faces life as a single father of two, with his own legal status still in limbo.  A lawyer has filed an emergency petition to stop Rukie's deportation.

Zack and Rukie married in Bulgaria in 1988.  Zack arrived on a tourist visa in 1990. Before his visa expired, he filed for political asylum. Paputchi testified that the communist regime in Bulgaria routinely persecuted and discriminated against him and many other ethnic Turkish Muslims. Once, he was threatened at gunpoint to change his name to a Bulgarian one.

Rukie, also an ethnic Turkish Muslim, arrived in the United States in 1992, and also filed for asylum.  The Paputchis pursued their applications for asylum. In 1996 Zack, Rukie and Hazim moved to Monroe County when Zack bought Old Mill Pizzeria.

U.S. immigration officials deemed Rukie's allegations of persecution, like her husband's, plausible, but ruled that she had not demonstrated future persecution likely, as the political situation in Bulgaria has changed. Ethnic Turks now have their own political party and are playing a key role in supporting the governing coalition in Bulgaria. The Paputchis' lawyers appealed the ruling.  Then came Rukie's unannounced arrest Monday at Old Mill.

For more on this story, click here and here.


| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference An Immigrant Story -- of Family Disunification?:



I hope this finds all well.

I am writing this in hopes that someone will contact this family and listen to what they have to say. I have known this family for over 10 years. They own a business, own a home, live by the laws of the land, contribute to their community, have two children who they BOTH love dearly and whose lives they are very involved in. They both work extremely long hard hours to provide a loving, safe, comfortable environment for themselves and their children.

On January 7, 2008 at about 7:25 while their 14 year old son was en-route to school and while their not quite 5 year old daughter slept the two of them were roused by knocks on the door.

At that very early hour in the place where anyone should feel most protected, it became a place where lives would be disrupted. Before that hour was up one of them would find themselves taken from her home, her husband, her son and her daughter.

I saw the look in a boys eyes who try's to comprehend what has happened. He comes home from school to continue a daily routine of homework, etc only to find his mother won't be there. A boy who was forced to grow beyond his years in an attempt to understand.

Then my heart turns to a little girl who I've had the extreme pleasure of spending a great deal of time with since she was born. She comes home from pre-school only to find her Mommy won't be home, she "hurt her leg". What else do you tell a child so tender in years.

While a husband and father who is supposed to protect his family and keep them safe struggles to comprehend how something like this can happen in America, the land of opportunity I will do whatever I can to help them. They are like family of my own, their children liken to my own three.

Legal counsel for the family is:
Theodore I. Murphy, Esquire
1800 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Suite 1700
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 825-8646

The name of the family is Zach & Rukie Paputchi, they live in Monroe County, PA. Their children are 14 year old Hasim and 4 year old Elise. The local newspaper and television news will be speaking with Mr. Paputchi and his son this morning.

As for me, I am just a 52 year old mother of three, grandmother of one who is born and raised in Monroe County with the same job I've had since I was 18 years told. I had to sit on the other side of a piece of glass and talk to her via a phone. I pray to God that this ordeal will have no lasting effects on this family. I will contact anyone I can in an attempt to bring light to this horrid situation. Please consider this family and their circumstance so that possibly the more of the public that become aware, the better the chances of this family being made whole.

They have done everything they were asked and instructed to do, they have followed all the rules and regulations. If some sort of filing or paper snafu left filings sit for years, that is through no fault of their own. Any decisions made on those filings should be made with conditions as they existed at the time of filing.

There is a file thicker than thick that contains paper after paper, document after document, letter after letter .. all in their attempt to pursue their dream, a dream that started for them near 20 years ago .. to become citizens of the United States; the land of the free.

And yet, for now .. this woman sits in a prison. I see the look of bewilderment in her sons eyes. I watch her husband go through day by day. I hold her daughter, I hug her and I kiss her .. while under my breath I tell her it's from her Mommy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

K Goida

Posted by: K G | Jan 19, 2008 8:10:36 AM

Post a comment