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A spelling bee's struggle

Son of deported Indian couple in U.S.

GREEN RIVER: A teenager will represent the U.S. State of Utah in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May while his parents follow the results from India, where they were deported after living in the U.S. for 16 years.

Kunal Sah, 13, is living in this small town in Utah with an uncle in a Ramada Inn, which was owned by his parents, Ken and Sarita Sah.

"It's very tough. He calls every day and he cries... We try to make him feel better and stronger," Ken Sah told The Salt Lake Tribune from New Delhi.

Family's arrival

Kunal was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen. The family landed in Green River about 10 years ago when the Sahs bought the budget inn.

His bedroom is decorated with trophies from spelling contests, a huge Webster's dictionary and a globe where he can point to New Delhi, the Tribune reported on its website. "If I knew when they would be able to come back, I would be relieved," Kunal said.

But his parents' return appears unlikely, at least in the short term. The Sah couple legally entered the U.S. in 1990 so Ken Sah could attend school in California to become an aircraft mechanic, their attorney, Steven Lawrence Jr., said.

Sarita became pregnant with their only child, and they applied for asylum to stay in the U.S., citing violence in their home province in India, Mr. Lawrence said. Their case, however, did not come up for about 10 years.

By that time, federal immigration officials "decided the asylum case was no longer valid if valid at all. India had changed after all those years."

Finally, after appeals and other attempts failed, the Sahs were deported to India last July. Their son joined them before returning to Utah to live with an uncle.

Kunal is in eighth grade at Green River High School, which has grades seven through 12. His classmates sometimes call him the "walking dictionary."

His wish

Before his parents were deported last year, they watched him advance to the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. He will return to the prestigious contest in May. "I just want to finish school in this country. I want to go to Harvard," Kunal said. "My classmates have more freedom than I do. But I spend my time educationally and want to gain more knowledge." — AP

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