Justice Officials Say Order Banning Polovchak’s Return To USSR Should Stand
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department told a federal appeals court Friday that Walter Polovchak’s parents deny any intention of forcing their son to live in the Soviet Union, so there is no reason to overturn a government order forbidding his departure.
Walter, who is now 17, defied his parents five years ago when he refused to leave Chicago and return with them to the Soviet Ukraine.
In written arguments submitted to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, the department said the denials, made by lawyers for Anna and Michael Polovchak in previous court filings, have rendered the case moot.
Federal attorneys want the appeals panel to overturn a U.S. district judge’s July 18 ruling declaring that the Polovchaks’ rights were violated by a government order barring Walter from leaving the country. The parents, who want the boy to join them in the Soviet Union, sought the ruling.
The federal government granted the boy asylum when he refused to return to the Soviet Union and issued an order forbidding his departure from the United States. The state courts took custody of him, but the custody action was was overturned last year by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The youth will turn 18 next month and can legally decide where he wants to live. He has said repeatedly that he wants to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship. He lives with his sister and a cousin on Chicago’s Northwest side and is a junior in high school.
Government attorneys said in their latest arguments that since the Polovchaks aren’t seeking a court order requiring Walter to be taken to the Soviet Union by force, there is no reason to lift the departure ban.
″These highly important concessions make clear that there is no current controversy between the parties regarding the departure control order and the grant of asylum because these actions concern only Walter’s ability to remain in the United States and the Polovchaks now admit openly that they do not wish to take Walter forcibly out of the country,″ the Justice Department said.
″Absolutely no action by the federal government has stopped the Polovchaks from re-establishing a family relationship with Walter,″ the department added. ″The government has prevented only Walter’s involuntary removal to the Soviet Union.″
The Justice Department said that if Walter’s parents can persuade him to go to the Soviet Union, the youth can ask the government to lift the departure order.
The department also said the grant of asylum does not prevent Walter from leaving the country.
Government lawyers have maintained in the past that Walter would face persecution if returned to the Soviet Union. The Soviets have protested the handling of the case.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled Monday before a three-judge panel of the appeals court.
The youth’s parents have been represented in court by the American Civil Liberties Union.