Nevada Senator Helps Teenagers In Danger Of Being Deported

Jan 27 2005

Nevada Senator Helps Teenagers In Danger Of Being Deported

They we’re born in a far away land, but America is the only home they
know. Today, Senator Harry Reid is stepping in to help two teenagers
stay with their family, and as News 3’s Beth Fisher reports, the only
life they’ve ever known.

“Why do the kids have to suffer in jail? Why are they not able to
wait at home for the court hearing?” Pizza is the last thing on the
mind of Rouben Sarkisian, owner of Tropicana Pizza on Pecos and
Wigwam. Sarkisian spent the last decade building a life for his five
daughters in America. Now, two of those girls are in a Los Angeles
jail. “She’s calling at seven in the morning. She’s crying and
saying, ‘Why do they keep us here? We are not criminals!'”

Miriam and Emma Sarkisian are just teenagers, but because they
weren’t born in the United States like their sisters, they face the
possibility of deportation to Armenia, a land where they have no
family and haven’t lived since they were toddlers. “In reality, the
girls do not read or write Armenian. They know just enough to
communicate with their parents.”

Speaking through a friend, Rouben Sarkisian says he pleads for his
daughters. Friends, customers and even complete strangers want to
help. “People call here and say, ‘We are with you. We’re here for
you.’ It makes us feel really good.”

They’re also calling Nevada leaders, asking them to fight for the 17
and 18 year olds. “It is just so bad. We have so many things dealing
with immigration that we need to work on, this isn’t one of them.”
Senator Harry Reid is pleading with the Department of Homeland
Security to free the girls, making a direct appeal to Secretary Tom
Ridge. “I think Secretary Ridge will find a way to keep these two
young women in Nevada.”

Back at Tropicana Pizza, Rouben Sarkisian says he putting his
business up for sale so he can focus on the business of saving his
girls. “How can I feel when it’s like they took two fingers and left
the other three?”

Last minute legal action has kept the girls off a plane to Armenia
three times since they were arrested nearly two weeks ago. Sarkisian
has paperwork to be in America legally, and he says he was told his
daughter’s paperwork was also in order.