This Is the Place for Me

Walter Polovchak, a 12-year-old boy, was listening to rock'n'roll music. "Turn off that garbage!" his father shouted. Walter turned off the music.

Walter and his family lived in Chicago, Illinois, but they were from Ukraine. Walter's father wasn't happy in Chicago. He didn't like American rock 'n' roll. He didn't like his job. He didn't like the weather. He didn't like the food or water. "Coming to the United States was a big mistake," Walter's father said. "We're going back home."

Walter didn't want to leave Chicago. He liked his school, and he liked American sports. He liked American food, especially Jell-O. Walter was happy in the United States. His 18- year-old sister Natalie was happy, too. Walter and Natalie packed their clothes and went to live with a cousin. "We're not going back to Ukraine," they said.

Walter's parents said, "Natalie is 18. She can stay in the United States. But Walter is only 12. He has to come with us." Waiter's parents called the police. "We want our son," they told the police. The police didn't know what to do. They called the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS made a decision. They said, "Walter can stay in the United States."

Walter's parents went back to Ukraine without Walter and Natalie. But first they hired a lawyer. "We want our son," they told the lawyer. "Go to court. Help us get our son back."

The U.S. courts said, "Walter's parents are right. The INS is wrong. Walter has to go back to Ukraine." But Walter didn't go back. When the court finally made its decision, Walter Polovchak was 18 years old. He was an adult, so he could live where he wanted to live. He stayed in the United States.

Walter Polovchak is in his late 20s now. He still lives in Chicago, and his parents are still in Ukraine. Walter says he misses his parents, but he is not sorry he stayed in the United States. "I couldn't go back to Ukraine," he says. "In my heart, I always knew that this was the place for me."

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