Don't Deport My Son's Violin Teacher

Don't Deport My Son's Violin Teacher

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FREMONT, Calif. - My son’s former violin teacher and her son face deportation to Russia in less than three weeks. The reason: what we are used to calling a “broken immigration process.”

Thirteen years ago, Tatiana Miroshnik was a “mail order bride.” Married to a U.S. citizen, she came to America with her three-year-old son, Eugene. She gave birth to two daughters Tatiana and Nastasia Martinez, and, like many other “mail order brides,” she had to end her brutal and abusive marriage before completing her residency application process.

Now, her recent appeal to immigration authorities has failed and she has been ordered to leave the country with her son, but without her two U.S.-born daughters who are now 10 and 8 years old.

Besides facing financial difficulties and being a single mother of three children, Tatiana got into a horrible accident that nearly killed her. She has a fighting spirit, though, and dignity and respect are her characteristics. She refused to go on welfare.

Trained as a musician in Moscow, she worked hard to establish her own business in the United States, teaching piano and violin in her modest apartment in Fremont. Instead of being harsh, rigid, and critical, Tatiana is an extraordinary  teacher who inspires and motivates her students. My son, Eric, once told me, “I got the inspiration and the love for music from Ms. Tatiana.”

Indeed, Tatiana often takes time to explain to her students how musical training can help their mental growth and development, and performance in school. She encourages them to play every piece of music with their heart and soul, lifts them up when they are frustrated, and praises them regardless of how big or small their accomplishments. By inspiring and motivating them, many students under her tutelage have been accepted to well known youth symphonies in the local area, such as the San Francisco Youth Symphony, the California Youth Symphony, and the El Camino Youth Symphony ... just to name a few.

Her love for music, devotion, and compassion make her a phenomenal music teacher. Tatiana also performed with the Fremont Symphony Players and Ohlone Chamber Orchestra. She volunteered her time to promote music in schools, particularly at Vallejo Mill Elementary, where her daughters are students.

Besides being a devoted teacher, Tatiana is an amazing single mom. She would not schedule lessons that are too late in the day to make sure she has time for her children. Eugene, like his mom, works hard and is extremely accomplished. He is an honor student and a member of the track and field team for Washington High School in Fremont. His teachers and friends love him, and are angry and frustrated to hear that he may be deported. They have organized many rallies to get the attention of local representatives in the hoped that they will be able to intervene on his behalf.

Eugene loves his sisters dearly and often takes care of them while his mother is busy teaching. Both Eugene and Tatiana told me they do not know what they would do without the two girls around. Tatiana has not had the courage to tell her daughters about the deportation news since it would be devastating for them. Eugene is facing the possibility of being drafted for military duty in Russia, a country and culture that is alien to him and a language he does not speak.

"I feel like an American. They want to deport me to Russia, which is foreign to me," he told a local paper. His favorite bands include Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith and Journey.

"We're not a liability to society," he said. "We're not breaking any laws. We pay our taxes."

I am broken hearted. So is my son. My husband and I were once refugees. Years ago, before the Cold War ended, we came to an America that accepted us without questions, gave us financial support and education to ensure our success. Now, we’re solid middle class citizens with high tech skills. We’re contributing to our society, our church.

But we wonder. What happened to the generous America that we once knew? What happened to the generosity that ensured integration and encouraged achievements for newcomers?

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, U.S. immigration law has changed and applied to everyone regardless of if one is a good citizen, a child, or a terrorist. We cannot allow the terrorists or a small group of immigrants who are milking the welfare system to destroy our country’s good standards and tenets. When millions of Vietnamese escaped from Vietnam by boat during the Cold War, they violated many laws. They left without passports, and they entered other countries without visas.

When I left Vietnam as a teenager, I violated Vietnam’s law. After all, the Communist government did not allow its citizens to escape overseas. That is why there are tens of thousands of Vietnamese living overseas who spent time in jail in Vietnam before they finally managed to escape.

The United States accepted us then without papers. It gave us shelter and in time we became doctors, engineers - we contribute greatly to this great nation. But now the U.S. immigration process is broken and needs to be fixed. It cannot afford to cast aside good, honest, hardworking individuals and talented contributors like Tatiana and Eugene, and it cannot afford to make her daughters motherless.

By keeping Tatiana and her son here in America, our society will benefit far more than ripping them apart. It is so very cruel to deport Eugene to a country that is foreign to him. U.S. immigration authorities must stop this senseless deportation order. They must stop breaking up families that are contributing, upstanding members of our society.