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Law lets Nigerian student who battled illness and excelled at college stay in U.S

Law lets Nigerian student who battled illness and excelled at college stay in U.S

 

WASHINGTON – A Nigerian student who has battled illness and fought to remain in the United States since moving to Michigan more than a decade ago will be allowed to stay under legislation that received final congressional approval Tuesday and was headed to President Barack Obama for his signature.

 

Victor Chukwueke of Oak Park, graduated from Wayne State University in May 2011. Chukwueke can stay in the U.S. thanks to new legislation passed by Congress. The bill now heads to President Barack Obama for his assent.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) sponsored the piece of legislation that the U.S. House passed on a voice vote Tuesday. It allows Sopuruchi Chukwueke – who goes by the name Victor – to remain in the U.S. despite the expiration of his visa. The bill had already been approved by the Senate.

 

“Victor’s amazing courage and determination exemplify much of what is so great about our country,” Levin said. “Already, his example has enriched Michigan and our nation, but I know that his contributions to our country are only beginning.”

 

According to Levin’s office, Chukwueke was born into poverty in Nigeria and diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that affects the growth of nerve cells and led to tumors deforming his face. After his parents put Chukwueke in an orphanage, Catholic nuns there made arrangements to bring him to the U.S. for treatment when he was 15 years old.

 

Chukwueke moved to Southfield and he underwent seven surgeries over the next 11 years. Meanwhile, he graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and chemical biology and posted a 3.82 grade-point average.

 

Levin’s legislation – which he wrote because Chukwueke faced deporation – granted him permanent legal resident status. Such bills, known as private bills, seldom become law, but immigration authorities generally defer deportation proceedings while such a bill is pending, Levin’s office said.

 

Chukwueke, 26, intends to enroll in medical school at the University of Toledo, which has been waiting for his immigration status to be resolved.

 

Last year, the Free Press and AfricanOutlook also did an interview with him and his mother on arrival in the US, wrote about Chukwueke’s story and his dreams of becoming a surgeon, as well as his reunion with his mother, who had sent him to missionary nuns as a teenager in hopes his condition could be treated.

 

She never expected to see him again, but Wayne State, Levin and Quicken Loans got involved and helped make the reunion reality. A relative of Quicken founder Dan Gilbert has the same genetic disorder.

 

The passage of private bills has become exceedingly rare: A look at Library of Congress records suggests this is the only such bill to pass in the current two-year term. Two passed in the 2009-10 term, both also dealing with immigration and residency status.