Pregnant emigre mom loses latest appeal

A pregnant Russian emigre who was deported in February from the Bay Area, where her family had been living, will not be allowed back into the United States while her case is being appealed.

Yana Slobodova will have to remain in St. Petersburg after being denied what is called humanitarian parole. Had it been granted, she would have been allowed to come back for a year, while she waited for her case to be further considered.

The bad news arrived last week at the law offices of Marc Van Der Hout, of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano and Nightingale, who has been the attorney on the case throughout the ordeal.

Slobodova, 30, who taught piano at the Community Arts and Music School in Mountain View and lived in San Francisco, was deported on Feb. 29, after it was determined that she had entered the country illegally, accepting “help” from an ex-boyfriend who swindled her.

Since moving to the Bay Area several years ago, Slobodova had a son with her emigre husband, Alexander Makarchuk. Her parents also came, and they are due to receive citizenship shortly.

Now five months pregnant, Slobodova is jobless in St. Petersburg — where she had not lived for almost a decade. Makarchuk, who has U.S. citizenship, is currently staying in San Francisco.

Slobodova has been in and out of the hospital because of complications with her pregnancy, and is supposed to stay in bed as much as possible. She has also been depressed. Her parents are with her, but they cannot stay permanently. Her son, 2-year-old Nikita, is also there.

“He needs lots of attention right now; he’s a little troublemaker,” said Alexander Makarchuk, Slobodova’s 33-year-old husband. “He doesn’t understand anything about what’s going on.”

Makarchuk has been back and forth several times between the United States and Russia. A U.S. citizen, he is receiving workers’ compensation because of a back injury that has left him unable to work. He is staying with a friend now in San Francisco, and is sending whatever money he can to his wife, who has to pay for all of her medical care out of pocket, since she is no longer a registered resident of Russia.

Though the appeal for humanitarian parole — filed only five weeks ago — took months to prepare and consisted of more than 300 pages of testimonials supporting the couple’s emotional hardship, the denial from the Department of Homeland Security came quickly and decisively, with no explanation.

“It seems like they didn’t even bother to look at it,” said Makarchuk. “They just sent out the denial, without explanation, and that’s why it seems so unfair.”

Makarchuk has decided to keep the news from his wife, afraid the blow could jeopardize her pregnancy.

The Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal, which has been spearheading efforts to help the couple, was to hold a conference call with Jewish agencies that’ve been active on her behalf, and her lawyers, on Wednesday, Aug. 4. They will discuss what the next steps are, though the chances of Slobodova being able to return now are slim.

When asked whether he had any hope left at being reunited with his wife, Makarchuk responded, “I always have hope.”

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."