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June 1, 2010 > Please help a valued member of our community

Please help a valued member of our community

By Rev. Bruce Green with contributions from Ivy Wu
Photos By William Mancebo

When President Obama visited solar panel-manufacturer Solyndra, Fremont, on Wednesday, May 26, members of Centerville Presbyterian Church demonstrated nearby, as closely as the police allowed, to attract his attention. They are pleading for Obama to halt the deportation of two Russian church members, perhaps through a presidential pardon.

Without extraordinary intervention, Tatiana Miroshnik and Eugene Kotelnikov, mother and 16-year old son, will be torn from her American-born daughters, 9-year old Tatiana and 7 year-old Nastasia who are unaware of the recent deportation order.

"Perhaps they won't need to be told," hopes Rev. Dr. Greg Roth, senior pastor of the church. "We're sure, if Obama knew of Tatiana's family ordeal, he could quickly resolve this matter with a presidential pardon. The girls should be spared this trauma."

Tatiana immigrated legally to America 13 years ago when Eugene was three years old, after marrying a United States citizen. The marriage ended because of his infidelity. She re-married and had two daughters but this marriage also failed. Neither husband completed the paperwork for her to gain residency.

After this, Eugene and his mother had to appeal to the US government to extend their stay in the US. Their latest appeal was denied this January. However, their immigration lawyer failed to inform them of the denial of their appeal. She regrets other paperwork mistakes, often due to simple ignorance of complex immigration law and procedures and the distraction of her divorce.

Without warning, Tatiana was arrested on Monday, May 17 and Eugene, a sophomore at Washington High School, Fremont, was arrested and finger-printed the following day. Mother and son have until today (June 1) to organize passports and purchase two one-way tickets to Russia.

Eugene barely understands Russian and would be drafted into the Russian army on reaching age 18. Following their forcible separation from their mother and older brother, Tatiana and Nastasia would remain in America, entrusted to the care of their father, an alleged wife-beater and belligerent who currently shares legal custody. Tatiana and Nastasia happen to be of similar ages as Michelle and Barack Obama's girls.

At 3 p.m. on May 28, more than 200 students from Fremont's five high schools marched from Washington High School to Congressman Pete Stark's office at 39300 Civic Center Drive, Fremont, bearing flags and poster boards. Motorists sounded their horns in support and police provided an escort en route. Many parents, teachers and members of the Centerville Presbyterian Church also joined the rally.

Eugene and Washington High School's Activity Director Helen Paris met with Stark's assistant Ms. Jo who informed them that if a "private bill" was introduced and accepted by the US Congress, then the deportation can be postponed while the bill is pending. Given that Congress is not in session, Ms. Jo advised the students to contact Senator Dianne Feinstein for a "private bill."

According to Feinstein's staff, Congress is not in session, both the Senate and House of Representatives, until June 7. Private bills are among the most difficult to pass. Not all members of Congress will consider or support a private bill. The whole of Congress must vote on it. A request for one requires extensive support and evidence but neither guarantees it will be offered or passed.

Over two days, church members gathered more than 260 signatures on petitions appealing to public officials on Tatiana's behalf. She is well-known in the church because she plays the violin at services. The church has started to raise funds to meet the legal expenses for this case.

Over the past 13 years Tatiana has not received any public assistance to raise her three children, instead working hard to open a music studio. One of her violin students passed the audition for her junior high school advanced band.

"Tatiana brought out the artist in our daughter!" exclaimed grateful parent Caridad Rosselli. "Tatiana is the type of person who has benefitted the United States in the past and is the type of resident that this country needs and wants."

Fremont Unified School District Board member Ivy Wu met with Ms. Jo on Friday afternoon to inform her that the community wishes to support Eugene but does not want to encourage illegal status.

"State Senator Ellen Corbett has also directed staff to contact me after I sent her an email late last Thursday night. She offered us her support and encouragement.

"Tatiana's two failed marriages in America have led to their current, illegal alien status. Eugene is an innocent in the process. We just want to find ways to help them so they can remain legally," concluded Wu.

For more information, contact Helen Paris at hparis@fremont.k12.ca.us, Rev. Bruce Green (Centerville Presbyterian Church) on (510) 828-4561 or at greenbbf@aol.com or Ivy Wu at ivy826wu@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 1
Lunch-time Rally
Front Lawn
Washington High School
38442 Fremont Blvd., Fremont

Wednesday, June 2
7:30 p.m.
Candlelight vigil
Front Lawn
Washington High School
38442 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
Please bring a small candle.

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