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GREEN RIVER, Emery County — Ten years ago, Kunal Sah was separated from his parents after they were deported back to India. He was only 12.
He was left alone to run the family’s hotel in Green River. He thought the situation would be cleared fast.
“I always thought it was in six months, or eight months, and I always had that in me,” Sah said. “It’s like, OK, even if things are failing right now, it’s not going to be long.
Turns out, it took a lot longer to get his family back together. For the past 10 years, he’s pretty much been in charge of the hotel. He’s only 23 years old now.
"I was overwhelmed every day,” he said. “Every day, I couldn't deal with it every day."
He had some help from his uncle and others, but since the hotel belonged to his mother and father, he felt it was up to him to take care of the place until his parents came back; and being an only child, it was also up to him to try to get his parents back.
"You don't know the value of parents until you're missing them,” he said.
Ten years ago his parents, Ken and Sarita Sah, tried to become American citizens. They filled out all the paperwork and took all the steps, but were denied. They were deported after living in the U.S. for 16 years.
Since Kunal Sah was born in the U.S., he was allowed to stay.
"We had followed all the rules and regulations of this country,” Ken Sah said in a 2006 interview. “We have never committed any crime and had done everything right."
Last week, after waiting for 10 years, Ken and Sarita Sah are back in the U.S. and back with their son.
“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” Ken Sah said Wednesday.
It took 10 years until Kunal Sah was approved to sponsor his parents to come back legally.
"There are so many undocumented people here and they're not doing it right, and these guys, that's what they get for doing it right,” Kunal Sah said.
The 23-year-old said it takes a lot of time and money to become legal U.S. citizens.
"It's broken,” he said. “The entire system is broken. There are no words to describe it."
His parents have only been back in Utah for a week, but his father found out a few days ago the hotel chain he used to be with is suing him, claiming he let the quality of the place go down.
"I don't know how I will get help, but I believe I will still get help from someone, somehow,” Ken Sah said.
For them, the hardest part is already done. They're home and are now grandparents, trying to get back the one thing even a slow town can’t give: time.
“We are the happiest persons right now,” Sarita Sah said.
“Now that we’re all together, that’s all that matters,” Kunal Sah said.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc