Bullard Valedictorian Fights Deportation

6/5/2008 Fresno, CA Seventeen-year-old Arthur Mkoyan has been in this country since he was four but the Federal Government wants to deport the boy and his family to Armenia.

Graduation ceremonies are just 6 days away, and Arthur Mkoyan plans to get his diploma, and be recognized as valedictorian. But before the month is out he and his family might be deported.

Arthur Mkoyan proudly displays a symbol of achievement declaring him a valedictorian of the Bullard High School Class of 2008. He's been accepted to U.C. Davis in the fall, but instead, on June 20th, he and his mother and 12-year-old brother could be sent back to, Armenia. "Supposedly we're supposed to get deported on that day. They are going to hold us, and then, take us from there," said Arthur Mkoyan.

Arthur's father was arrested last month and is already being held in a federal detention center in Arizona. He came to this country legally 16 years ago, and applied for asylum. The petition was eventually denied, and the family's long court battle ended with a deportation order and immigration officers at their door.

The family is now hoping Congressman George Radanovich or Senator Dianne Feinstein will introduce a private bill on their behalf. "It would be a dream come true, but I guess it's not for me to decide," said Mkoyan.

Members of Fresno's Armenian community have mobilized after hearing of the families' plight. Hilda Santikian, chair of the Armenian National Committee, thinks he's the wrong kind of person to be deported. "He's a good student, he's a four-point-zero student and of course I want him to stay here," said Santikian, "we need people like this."

Arthur said he's trying to stay focused on graduation day on the tenth, and just hoping for the best. "I'll be able to make it to the ceremony, but after that it's really up in the air right now."

Representatives from Congressman Radanovich's office will meet with the family on Thursday, but the Congressman has already rejected the family's first request for help.

Senator Feinstein has intervened on behalf of Mexican families facing deportation, and her office is looking at this case.

With graduation season here, this case has attracted national attention.

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