Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sightless Pianist And Family Must Vamoose Back To Chile

Though blind and partially deaf, Yerko DiFonis has wowed audiences and taken home top prizes for his remarkable piano playing.
But his dazzling musical talents can't keep him in the country.

The 17-year-old prodigy and his family have lived illegally in the United States since 2000, in hopes that the boy would receive better treatment than in their native Chile.

Yerko, who plays music from memory, has thrived - even getting accepted at the city's prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

But instead of starting his junior year this week, he and his family will return to their homeland on Sept. 25 under the threat of deportation.

"I say my wish would be that myself and my family would all either get green cards or have the possibility of becoming American citizens," he said.

Born legally blind, Yerko can only differentiate between light and dark and needs hearing aids in both ears. None of the public schools in Chile could handle his disabilities.

"The only reason that we came here was that I wasn't getting a good education in Chile," Yerko said. "The first year that I went there, I basically sat around and did nothing."

Yerko, his mother and brother flew to New York in 2000 on a temporary visa, the family says.
His father, Stefanos DiFonis, snuck into the country through Canada that same year, but was arrested. He remained in New York despite a judge's order removing him from the country, records show.
The family has led a comfortable life on Staten Island since, with his father running a contracting business. All that changed on July 1, when an immigration officer arrested his father and told him he would soon receive deportation papers, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said.
I feel for this kid I really do. Our laws are there for a reason, though, and it isn't as if he's from Mexico. Fer chrissake his old man was running a thriving business instead of putting the family on welfare...which in NYC one can do regardless of one's immigration but of course the ICE-men came-ith.

Can't go ruining it for the Beaners.

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