"He always reads the newspaper and watches the news," Prasad says, seeing stories of "so many undocumented and illegal immigrants, and still. they are in this country while his father was doing everything right in front, paying taxes, and this happened."
Along the way, local and state government got involved. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, both pleaded the Sah's case to the immigration authorities, but to no avail.
Alyson Heyrend, communications director for Matheson, describes it as "a very sad situation."
As an American citizen, Kunal can apply to bring his parents back to this country after he turns 21 -- eight years from now -- though there are still no guarantees that effort will succeed.
Indicating the spelling bee's modern-day appeal to serve as a socioeconomic microcosm of the country, Heyrend continues, "the real tragedy of all of this is that our immigration system is fairly dysfunctional. There's problems if you play by the rules, there's problems if you don't play by the rules."
"There's an argument for comprehensive immigration reform, but the rules are rules," Heyrend says. "It takes a case like this to put a human face on it for folks."
In the glare of the national and international spotlights, the Sah family's story has become part policy, part raw emotion.
"Most of the time, she is crying," Ken Sah says of his wife. "It's one of the biggest heartbreaking things. You have built your house and home, and built yourself. It's your sweat. It's your effort, and someone throws you out from there."
Sah laughs as he concedes that he still tries to live like an American citizen, even if he never became one. "I'm in India, being deported and I'm still paying taxes...I love to pay U.S. taxes. I contributed to the economy, created new jobs in a small town. I've been there. These are the kinds of ethics we have."
Watching their son's success from oceans away, the Sah's sadness is mixed with hope.
"It's heartbreaking every day. We are trying to teach Kunal good things and keep his motivation," Ken Sah says from Delhi. "We are still hopeful, we are still optimistic. We haven't done anything wrong. … We have produced for the United States. What kind of a better person does the country need?"