Attorneys file motions to let ex-USSR emigre stay here

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Lawyers filed two motions on behalf of Yana Slobodova this week in the Russian emigre’s ongoing battle with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow her to remain here with her husband, a naturalized citizen, and their 20-month-old son.

“We’re arguing that the decision denying her waiver was wrong in light of the humanitarian needs of the case, but that it also is a matter of law,” said Megan Ferstenfeld-Torres, an attorney with the San Francisco office of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale.

Slobodova, 30, now has 10 days before she must board a plane to her native St. Petersburg, which she left eight years ago in hopes of a better life in America. She has no close relatives there, as her parents live in San Mateo and will be eligible for citizenship soon. Slobodova, who was employed as a piano teacher in Mountain View, paid $10,000 for faulty papers, which are the source of her problems now.

Her attorneys have requested an audience with David Still, regional director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. If that request is granted, they will plead Slobodova’s case with a packet of some 90 letters collected on her behalf, from other emigres, parents of her piano students and Jewish community members. The lawyers are working together with the Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal to present letters on her behalf from elected officials.

“Ms. Slobodova’s deportation would cause extreme hardship to her husband and to their very young son,” wrote Anita Friedman, executive director of the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services.

Meanwhile, Alexander Makarchuk, Slobodova’s husband, said he prefers not to think about what will happen if his wife has to leave.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."