Student from Zambia Fights to Compete In US Poetry Contest

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High School Poet Immigration
A high school student who fled his native Zambia, recites a poem during a news conference in Portland, Maine.  (Troy R. Bennett/The Bangor Daily News via AP)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Lawyers for a high school student who fled his native Zambia and is suing to compete in a government-funded national poetry competition say the case is about an “educational benefit” for any public school student.

Allan Monga of Deering High School won the Maine “Poetry Out Loud” contest. He applied for asylum in the U.S., but hasn’t been granted legal residency. He’s not being allowed to compete in the National Endowment of the Arts’ “Poetry Out Loud” contest next week.

The Portland Press Herald reports his lawyer said Wednesday that Monga may not get another chance to compete in the national finals and “show his merit.”

NEA attorneys say the organization has the right to “draw the line” in deciding who’s eligible for its programs.

A judge plans to rule by Friday.

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