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...
Mark Silverman, director of immigration policy at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, said Arthur Mkoyan's case illustrates why Congress should have passed the Dream Act. The act would have allowed students who excelled in school and stayed out of trouble to become permanent residents and attend college or enlist in the military
"There's something very wrong with the immigration laws when our government is deporting our best students," Silverman said.
The Mkoyans have been in the United States legally for 16 years. The Mkoyans have done nothing wrong. They have broken no rules. They came to this country, as all of our ancestors did, in the hopes of starting a new life and achieving "The American Dream." Arthur worked hard and, apparently, did everything right and instead of being reaping the benefits of that hard work he is being tossed out of the country. There is literally no reason why Arthur should not be allowed to remain in this country, to attend college, to lead a successful life and to continue contributing to American society.
Nativist fear-mongering and anti-immigration demagoguery killed The Dream Act in the U.S. Senate this last fall. When the nativists try and tell you that it is only "illegal" immigration that they are opposed to remember this story.