Walter Polovchak 


Walter Polovchak, a Ukrainian boy was 12 years old in 1980, when he refused to return with his émigrés parents to the Soviet Union.

Walter and family lived in Chicago, Illinois, but they were from Ukraine. Walter's father wasn't happy in Chicago. "Coming to the United States was a big mistake," Walter's father said. "We are 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 aand 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." Walter'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 that Walter could stay in the United States. Walter's parents went back to Ukraine without Walter and Natalie.

The U.S. Department of Justice agreed and granted Polovchak temporary political asylum while his fate was being decided in the courts

A sympathetic Reagan Administration helped drag out court procedures for the following four years, until Walter was old enough to make his own decision about where to live.

Today, Polovchak is 32 years old and works in the Chicago area, where he lives with his wife and 6-year-old son. He says he's never regretted his decision to remain in the United States. 

Since becoming a U.S. citizen, Polovchak has twice visited the now-independent Ukraine, and has re-established warm relations with his parents.


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