Community support for Fremont family facing deportation

Tatiana & EugeneThere seems to be a groundswell of support for Tatiana Miroshnik and Eugene Kotelnikov, her 16-year-old son, who have been served deportation papers to return to Russia by June 18.

Miroshnikov moved to Fremont 13 years ago and married a U.S. citizen but divorced before she had obtained her green card. She appealed, but the court decided this year not to grant her or her son permanent residency. (Eugene was 3 when he came to the U.S.)

Many members of Centerville Presbyterian Church, where Miroshnikov plays the violin, have been rallying for her to stay. They say a woman like Miroshnikov — a single mother who isn’t on welfare nor harmed anyone, and who has given back to the community by performing in various local music groups and promoting music education in schools — shouldn’t be targeted by U.S. immigration officials.

If she is deported, Miroshnikov would leave behind her U.S.-born daughters, ages 10 and 8, and cannot return to the United States for at least 10 years.

Tomorrow, classmates of the son at Washington High plan to march to Rep. Pete Stark’s Fremont office after school, about a mile-and-a-half from campus.

Helen Paris, activities director at Washington High, said leadership students are calling on the entire student body to join them in asking Stark to use his political clout to keep Eugene and his mother from being deported. (Eugene no longer speaks Russian and considers himself American.)

“My student leaders … felt they couldn’t just sit on the fence and do nothing. They couldn’t just sit and cry,” Paris said.

In addition to Friday’s march, students are planning other events to drum up support for Eugene and his family. They hope to stage rallies from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Fremont Boulevard and Mowry Avenue and to hold a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday in front of the school.

Many of those same students have joined the Facebook group “Help Stop Cruel Deportation,” dedicated to Miroshnikov’s cause. The page was set up yesterday, and 481 people have become members.

Meanwhile, Centerville Presbyterian Church has set up an e-mail address for people wishing to get more information about the situation. The address is Tatiana.support@cpcfremont.org.

Linh Tat