Reason Magazine, CA
June 7 2008

But I Don't Even Speak Armenian!

Mike Riggs | June 6, 2008, 12:04pm

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.