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Front Page » May 16, 2006 » Local News »
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Forced to leave: Sah family from Green River told to return to India by July 1

Ken, Sarita and Kunal Sah, face the grim prospect of deportation by July 1, unless they receive a miracle to stay in this country.

Immigration has been a hot topic lately and Emery County has its own immigration story which has become a nightmare for the Sah family of Green River. They have been ordered to leave America by July 1.

Ken Sah is from the country of India and has been in America for 16 years. He came to the United States as a student in 1990. He studied and graduated with a degree in aviation-engineering from Oakland, Calif.

Sah said, "I looked at America as the land of opportunity. I liked it here. I liked the history of the country. I decided to stay. I applied for an asylum in 1991 while still in college. I was already married to my wife Sarita, but there were those that said if I married an American I could stay. But, I couldn't do that because I was already married. It took 10 years before I had a court hearing. What can you do? In 10 years time I had to work and earn a living. We worked hard night and day until I had $100,000 saved to put on a down payment on a motel in Green River.

"I came to America by myself and after two years my wife Sarita was able to join me.

"We came to Green River in 1997 and purchased the Budget Inn. We operated the motel with no help, just me and my wife. In 2001, we built a new hotel the Ramada Limited. We are also co-owners of a motel, the Value Lodge, in Charlotte, N.C.

"Ten years is a long time to wait for a hearing. If it could have been decided in a couple of years that would have been better. But 10 years? We have built a life in America. After 10 years, they denied my asylum. They said I could go back to India and that it was a big country and if I didn't like it in one part then I could travel to another part of India. We have a son Kunal who is an American citizen. He was born in Oakland in 1993. He has never known any place but America.

"My lawyer appealed my case to a higher court but it was denied. I am now at the end of all the administrative avenues. I have no place else to go. I have sent faxes and emails to Pres. Bush at the White House. I have had no response.

"I was hoping Sen. Bob Bennett could contact Pres. Bush for me. Sen. Bennett is a businessman and would understand how hard it is to operate your own business.

"I would need special legislation written now just for my case. The politicians seem unwilling to do that. The president could also offer me asylum. I just can't get a hold of anyone to help us. We have to be out of America by July 1.

Sarita, Kunal and Ken Sah at their hotel, the Ramada Limited in Green River.

"I need someone to lead me up to the people who can help. Everywhere I have met a dead end. We have been scared for the last five years. My wife, Sarita, cries every day. I try to console her, but I feel terrible, too. If I had done anything wrong it would be different, if I was a criminal. But for the past 16 years I have been involved economically in the country. I have a social security number and have been paying taxes, almost $100,000 a year to the government.

"I have written to the governor and they tell me it's a federal issue and they can't help. I have seen on the TV where Gov. Huntsman has adopted a baby from India. He is a nice man and has saved a child's life. But, what about me? What about my son? Could the governor try to help me? Could he get a hold of Pres. Bush for us? I need someone to lead me to the resources who could help.

"For the last five years, we have been scared that the next person through the door might be the one who will take us away. Two weeks ago the immigration department came and took our passports away. They said we can have them back when we have bought our plane tickets out of the country.

"We have prospered in this country, but now we have been told to sell our properties or lose everything. I have my properties up for sale, but if they don't sell we will lose everything. How can I just leave my businesses here?

"If we have to leave they told me there is a 10 year ban before I could enter this country again. Ours was the first of our family to come to America. I have one brother here now, but the rest of my family is in India and we haven't seen them for 16 years. I couldn't go home when my mother died, because they wouldn't let me back into America. My son Kunal doesn't want to leave. He doesn't know India. His life is here. He is an American.

"If we are sent back it will be a loss to America. We contribute to the economy. We have invested to help make America stronger.

"My son is a very intelligent boy he is a good student. He won the district spelling bee and will be competing in Washington D.C. on May 31 and June 1. While we are in Washington, I hope I can contact our senators or congressman for an appointment to tell my story and get some help so we don't have to leave.

"We keep hoping that something will happen and we won't have to leave. We are a benefit to America. We are being forced to leave, it just doesn't make sense.

Ken Sah welcomes visitors at the Budget Inn.

"At first the political people were very hopeful and positive with me, but lately they have just said they are unable to help and I have been left completely alone.

"My son has worked so hard to get ready for the spelling bee and we are so proud of him. The whole community and school is proud of him.

"I have not slept good for the past five years, with the cloud of deportation hanging over our heads. It's sad that we haven't been able to go back to India to visit. Kunal hasn't ever seen my father or my wife's family. We just knew we wouldn't be allowed back into America and we couldn't risk that. We love it here. I hope to see my Dad before he dies.

"If my son were older, I would just give everything to him when we have to leave, but he is too young. He can't stay here alone.

"Even though all these things have happened. I still feel that something good should happen. We don't deserve this. This shouldn't be happening to us. I hope that something good will happen that will allow us to stay. If not, at the end of June we will be gone. We will leave. We are not going to do anything illegal, like go into hiding. I have done everything legally that I am able. I will not go into hiding. That would not be a good impression or good influence on my son. If I have to go, I will go peacefully. I would like to say thanks to everyone who has tried to help me. I have had over 50 recommendations from people sent to Sen. Orrin Hatch's office on my behalf. The people have been very supportive. Former Green River Mayor Glen Johnson has been a good friend to our family.

"I have tried to keep a positive attitude through all of this. I have had a work permit all these years and have always been legal. I have not been illegal and if I leave by June 30, I will be OK and not arrested. It is sad that someone like me who has been here so long is being forced to leave.

"Until the last moment comes we will keep trying and hope for the best. I will keep my enthusiasm that something good will happen. I don't know yet if that will be successful, but we have one month left and anything could happen in this last month.

Sarita Sah helps George Newman and Gene Campbell, tourists from Chattanooga, Tenn. at the Ramada in Green River.

Sarita said, "I am scared, but I am still doing fine."

Kunal said he has lived in a motel his whole life. But if they are allowed to stay in America, the family has plans to build a home in Green River.

Ken said, "I have trusted in the rules and regulations and tried to do everything right. It is harder that way, there are many who look for loopholes in the system. After 16 years, I am still trusting the system."

Kunal said, "Green River is the only place I have known. If we leave, I still want to come back to America to go to college when I am 18. I am excited to go to Washington D.C. to the National Spelling Bee."

Kunal has been taught the native language of Hindi by his parents. He also can read and write in Hindi.

The family is occupied full time at the motel especially during the summer months. But, sometimes when it's slow during the winter the family gets away for some family time. Ken said, "Kunal is an American kid, we took him to Florida to Walt Disney World."

The end of the story is yet to be known, but with a miracle hopefully the Sah family will realize their dream of staying and working in America for a long time.

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