Monday, June 2, 2008

High School Valedictorian To Be Deported

Another crazy result of our failed immigration policies. Among other possibilities, the DREAM Act would have resolved this. Vanessa Colon writes in the Fresno Bee:

Arthur Mkoyan's 4.0 grade-point average has made him a valedictorian at Bullard High School in Fresno and qualified him to enter one of the state's top universities.

But while his classmates look forward to dorm food and college courses this fall, Arthur Mkoyan may not make it.

He is being deported.

Arthur, 17, and his mother have been ordered out of the country. By late June, they may be headed to Armenia.

Arthur hasn't seen Armenia since he was 2, and he doesn't want to return. The thin, rather shy teenager doesn't speak Armenian and barely understands the language when it's spoken to him.

"Hopefully, I can somehow stay here and continue my studies here," he said. "It would be hard if I go back."

The family fled from the old Soviet Union and has been seeking asylum since 1992. The appeals ran out this year. Click here for the rest of the story.


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It is, of course, an unfortunate story.
But it is fair or lawful to impose upon the California taxpayers the cost of educating a student having no legal right to reside in the United States?

Posted by: Kevin Bove | Jun 2, 2008 6:30:03 PM

Denial of Meritorious Asylum and Withholding of Removal Based Claims in the U.S., and Refoulement of those Fleeing Persecution to the Countries from which they Face Torture and Death by the U.S. Government is a Matter of Routine (Arthur Mkoyan and his parents are only the tip of the iceberg)

Refugees fleeing persecution and seeking asylum, or withholding of removal in the U.S. must (1) have a meritorious claim (meet the minimum legal standard), (2) properly articulate past experiences, those similarly situated to themselves, and basis of their fear of future persecution, (3) adequately document the meritorious nature of their claim (news articles, human rights reports, and testimony from country experts), (4) be familiar with and be capable of effectively invoking their rights (use of an honest, competent, and diligent attorney), (5) be assigned an intellectually honest asylum officer (credible fear interview), and (6) intellectually honest immigration judge (determined in large measure by which immigration jurisdiction you reside in at the time you file the claim).

Identifying and securing the assistance of competent legal counsel is no accident, exceedingly difficult to accomplish under the best of circumstances, but absolutely crucial to the success of a meritorious claim.
In selecting an immigration attorney, one should be as discriminating as if searching for a surgeon.

The overwhelming majority of these claims are lost as a direct result of incompetent legal counsel. Guided by a minimalist philosophy, attorneys often fail to provide their clients with a complete list of and explore the range of available legal options, copy and provide an adequate interpretation of the law, explain the legal standards, costs and benefits associated with each, enumerate the nature and degree of assistance, both required and to be made available to them for the proper preparation and defense of the case. What the attorney does not know, or fails to inform their client, they often will not provide, and the client goes without. What a client does not know they need, they neither seek, nor require from their attorney, enabling the attorney to enhance their profits by processing more claims, investing less time with each. To the extent that an occasional claim prevails, it’s a welcome bonus.

Attorney’s often fail, either to appreciate, or reveal to their clients, the minimum degree of sophistication required to discern and document the meritorious nature of a claim, invest adequate time interviewing and memorializing its underlying basis, prepare a legal brief reconciling the claim facts, both with applicable law, and the realities presenting on the ground in the country to which their client faces repatriation/deportation, prepare the client for questioning by an asylum officer at the credible fear interview, or later by an immigration judge, or U.S. Government trial attorney at the merits/individual hearing.

Given the thumbnail sketch of the facts presented by the media in the case and widely know realities presenting on the ground in Armenia, it would appear that the case of the Mkoyan family has merit, which begs a number of significant questions.

Was the petitioner’s claim prepared properly? Was it supported with reports and expert testimony drawn from internationally known and respected sources? How much experience did the attorney have with asylum and withholding of removal based claims? Did the attorney recommend use of, call upon, and make effective use of an internationally known and respected country expert? Did the attorney prepare an effective legal brief? Was the petitioner properly prepared in advance of the credible fear interview? Was the attorney present at the credible fear interview? Why wasn’t the asylum officer’s decision to deny the claim rebutted? Did the Trial Attorney solicit, and the applicant’s attorney bother to rebut, an unfounded finding of document fraud, either from a forensics document examiner at the Forensics Document Laboratory (FDL), a fraud prevention investigator in the employ of the U.S. Embassy in Armenia, and use the reports to undermine the applicant’s credibility? Was the petitioner properly prepared in advance of the merits/individual hearing? Following denial of the claim by the immigration judge, did the attorney prepare an effective and file a timely appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) (a non-objective, anti-alien agency noted for rubber stamping decisions to deny otherwise meritorious claims)? What experience did the applicant’s attorney have preparing appeals to the BIA? Following denial of the appeal by the BIA, did the attorney prepare an file an effective appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? What experience did the attorney have preparing appeals to the Federal Courts?

In the Mkoyan case, the government has moved the father to a detention facility a significant distance from the applicant’s family, social network, and most significantly, immigration attorneys. This protocol was specifically designed to create an atmosphere of despair and anxiety, increase the degree of difficulty to secure competent legal counsel in order to prepare effective appeals for a stay of deportation, or reopening of the case, all but eliminate the applicant’s right to engage in protected communication with an attorney (attorney – client privileged communication, all telephonic and written communications, either entering, or exiting these detention facilities are monitored. With attorney’s and family out of reach, impediments to deportation/refoulement are narrowed down to finding an available seat on an international flight to, in this case, Armenia. U.S. Immigration authorities will then target and pick off and deport individual members of the family one-by-one.

Of course, both Senator’s Feinstein and Boxer are familiar with the process, and well aware of widely reported abuses, both by asylum officers, immigration judges operating within the State of California, as well as by their colleagues operating in more than 50 other immigration jurisdictions throughout the country, as well as those attributable to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), just minutes away from their Washington offices, and neither has found merit in acknowledging the existence of the problem, let alone lifted a single legislative finger to correct the problem.

Problems involving attorney competency and ethics require action by State licensing authorities. Unethical and criminal conduct attributable to asylum officers and immigration judges require Congressional oversight and action. To date, the both State licensing authorities across the country and congress remain, to put it charitably, out to lunch. In the case of Senator’s Feinstein and Boxer, the single most significant attribute which both they and their congressional colleagues have is their ability to count. If the public doesn’t contact them and demand action, the safety of Mr. Mkoyan, his parents, and thousands just like them with a well founded fear of persecution will be dictated by ethically challenged asylum officers and administrative immigration judges who are essentially accountable to no one.

The time has come for Senators Feinstein and Boxer to hold administrative immigration judges and immigration enforcement personnel to account for subverting U.S. immigration law as it affects legitimate refugees seeking asylum and withholding of removal in the U.S., with the infusion of their own personal prejudices and criminal inclinations. It is time for the American public to now hold Senators Feinstein and Boxer to account for their silence and inaction on the subject. It is time to remind them both that the voting public hasn’t forgotten how to count either.

Michael Pellerin
Political Asylum Research
and Documentation Service (PARDS)
Princeton, New Jersey 08542

Posted by: Michael Pellerin | Jun 4, 2008 6:14:47 PM

"But it is fair or lawful to impose upon the California taxpayers the cost of educating a student having no legal right to reside in the United States?"

Well, since California ALREADY paid for it, that question is kind of moot, isn't it?

I'd CERTAINLY rather pay for him, even if he IS illegal, than to pay for some shlump who does nothing but fail time and time again. I'd rather have paid for his mother to have had the abortion she wanted but couldn't afford.

But no - I see that your way is better. Let's let all the smart people from horrible countries have wasted opportunities and throw all of OUR money into trying to save morons who don't want to lift their lives out of the horror that they are. That way EVERYONE suffers and we never progress as a species. Yep - your way is MUCH better.

(did you note the sarcasm, or were you one of those that should have been aborted?)

Posted by: Jeremy S. | Jun 5, 2008 7:56:34 PM

The silver lining is that he's not subject to the 10 year bar so he could conceivably come back on an F-1.

Posted by: Jay | Jun 7, 2008 10:20:01 AM

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