Fresno Valedictorian’s Possible Deportation Prompts Support

FRESNO-The possibility of Bullard High School valedictorian being deported has prompted support from local activists, Rep. George Radanovich and the Armenian National Committee of Central Valley.
The Fresno Bee reported Monday that Arthur Mkoyan, a 4.0 student at the high school, and his mother have been ordered out of the country. So, Arthur, not only may not see his graduation, he also will not be able to attend University of California at Davis.
Below is the follow up story from The Fresno Bee:

Support flows for Bullard High student

BY VANESSA COLON
The Fresno Bee

Lawmaker, Armenian group, peers respond to plight of valedictorian

Arthur Mkoyan, the Bullard High School valedictorian who may be deported before he can fulfill his college dreams, got a boost Monday in his efforts to remain in this country.
Mkoyan, whose story was featured in Monday’s Bee, drew immediate support from a local Armenian advocacy group and fellow Bullard High students — and a promise from Rep. George Radanovich to take a second look at his request for help.
On Monday, Arthur said, he was showered with questions and offers of help from students and teachers at school, who hadn’t known of his plight. His home phone has been ringing off the hook as friends and supporters called. Television news reporters were trying to get an interview most of the day, Arthur said.
The shy 17-year-old with a 4.0 grade-point average said he is overwhelmed by the sudden attention.
"It makes me feel good people care," he said.
Arthur will graduate from Bullard High June 10 as a valedictorian. He’d like to stay in the United States and attend the University of California at Davis, where he has been accepted for the fall.
But the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ordered Arthur and his mother to leave the U.S. by late June and return to Armenia, a country Arthur hasn’t seen since he was 2.
Arthur’s family fled from the old Soviet Union and has been seeking asylum since 1992. Ruben Mkoian, Arthur’s father, applied for asylum but was rejected. Mkoian, who spells his name differently from his son, appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He lost his appeal. Mkoian is currently at a detention center in Arizona.
On Monday, as news of the family’s plight spread, Arthur’s family was contacted by the Armenian National Committee of Central California. Hilda Santikian, the committee’s chair, said her group is exploring how it can help the family.
Meanwhile, Arthur’s mother, who has declined to give her name for fear of losing her job, was invited on Ray Appleton’s afternoon radio show on KMJ 580 and discussed the family’s situation. She said the family had sought help from Radanovich, R-Mariposa, but his office wasn’t able to do anything for them.
Radanovich’s office acknowledged Monday that the family first sent a letter to the congressman on April 18. A few days later, a staff member told the family that its only option was a private bill to grant legal status to individuals, but that Radanovich doesn’t introduce private bills.
"He doesn’t feel he should be able to pick winners or losers and who should on an individual basis stay or leave," said Spencer Pederson, Radanovich’s press secretary.
Arthur’s mother then turned to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has introduced private bills in the past. Feinstein is now looking at Arthur’s case. Private bills are rarely introduced and often don’t pass, but if a bill is introduced, deportation is halted.
Radanovich called Arthur’s mother soon after her KMJ radio appearance. His staff now plans to meet with Arthur and his mom Thursday.
"We are taking a more extensive view" of the case, Radanovich said in a phone interview.
"This is a second look. … We would be reviewing the case to see if there’s anything we can do."
Arthur is surprised by all the attention. But he is trying not to let it distract him — he has one more final exam and an essay still to write.

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