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Las Vegas: NV Lawmakers Have Power to Stop Girls´ Deportation

KLAS TV, Nevada
Jan 22 2005
NV Lawmakers Have Power to Stop Girls' Deportation
(Jan. 21) -- Eyewitness News first broke the story of two Las Vegas
teens that could be sent back to Armenia on Tuesday. Since then, we
have been closely reporting the developments. Late Friday afternoon a
federal judged made an important ruling in the case. These two girls essentially grew up in Las Vegas. Their parents
immigrated here 14 years ago. The father has a green card, but the
girls and their mother do not. Now, the government wants to send the
girls back to Armenia. But they know nothing about the country
because they are fully Americanized. Immigration officials detained 18-year-old Emma Sarkisian and her
17-year-old sister Mariam as they sought to gain residency at a Las
Vegas immigration office last Friday. They are now in Southern
California waiting to be deported. The government is keeping their location quiet. But a source close to
the case confirms with Eyewitness News the girls are being detained
at a Best Western hotel. Security guards watch over their every move
-- 24 hours a day. Family attorney Troy Baker said, "They have very little information
coming to them. They don't know what's going to happen in any given
minute. They're being whisked back and forth from hotels to detention
cells without any knowledge of what's going on."
Troy Baker wants Emma and Mariam released on bail until a judge
decides whether they should be deported. It would allow the girls to
resume their lives and allow Mariam go back to school at Palo Verde
High School. Late Friday afternoon, on the third floor of the Las Vegas federal
courthouse, six attorneys, three on each side, argued the girls'
futures. The judge ruled in the government's favor, keeping the girls
in custody.
"And so we have to pull out all the stops on this case. We have to
appeal to the public sentiment. We have to appeal to the powers that
be," Baker stated. And Baker says his team has to appeal to
politicians as well. There is one big wildcard in all of this and it falls squarely on the
shoulders of Nevada lawmakers. They do have the ability to stop the
deportation and allow the girls to live here permanently -- all with
the stroke of a pen. It's called a private bill. Any congressperson
or senator can make one. It overrides immigration laws and would give
the girls special federal protection. Attorney Baker says, "Essentially it gives them the right to stay
here indefinitely and stops all the proceedings and they cannot be
harassed any further on this issue."
Private bills are rare. There were only five last year. It is
basically a private federal law granting citizenship to a specific
person. It has to pass in both Houses of Congress and be signed by
President Bush. But the Sarkisian's lawyers believe it is possible since Senator
Harry Reid is now the minority leader. They hope to meet with the
senator next week.

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