Around New England

Zambian Teen-Ager Sues To Compete In U.S. Poetry Contest

A 17-year-old Zambian junior at a high school in Portland, Maine is seeking to compete in a National Endowment for the Arts poetry contest even though he hasn’t yet gotten a Green Card.

Allan Monga has applied for asylum, but it hasn’t been granted yet.

He won the Maine version of the Poetry Out Loud contest but has been barred from the national contest because he isn’t a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, which the contest’s rules require because it is sponsored by a federal agency. He and the Portland school district sued to get him into the contest, which is scheduled for next week.

A federal judge in Maine didn’t seem to be buying the government’s argument during a court hearing Wednesday.

“Why is it in the national interest to prevent someone like Mr. Monga from participating in this poetry contest?” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock asked lawyers for the National Endowment for the Arts, according to the Bangor Daily News.

“It’s in the national interest to give the limited resources of the country to permanent legal residents and U.S. citizens,” replied Assistant Attorney General Rachael Westmoreland, according to the Bangor Daily News.




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