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US considers special residency law for Nigerian student

The US congress is considering a special legislation that will enable an indigent Nigerian student in that country, Sopuruchi Chukwueke, have a pemanent  US residency, after his visa expired 10 years ago.

Chukwueke’s bill, sponsored by U.S. Senator, Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat,   applies solely to him. It would grant permanent residency to the Nigerian, whose middle name is Victor, as long as he applies for it within two years of the bill becoming law. It would reduce, by one, the number of immigrant visas available to Nigerians and would bar preferential treatment for members of his family.

The Senate passed Levin’s legislation, S. 285, by unanimous consent on July 25. A week later, the House Judiciary Committee approved it by voice vote, so the measure that would allow Chukwueke to fulfill his dream is just one step — passage by the full House from President Barack Obama’s desk.

Chukwueke was admitted to the University of Toledo with one condition: that he obtained permanent-residency status by last Aug. 1.  Chukwueke has been in the U.S. illegally since then.The special legislation  will enable him to complete his studies at the university.

Chukwue, from Ovim, Abia State, was rescued and taken to the US for surgery in his home town by a nun when a native doctor said he should be drowned. Eleven years and seven operations later, doctors removed the benign growths caused by the genetic disease neurofibromatosis and performed reconstructive surgery.

In that time, Chukwueke, who lost his right eye to the tumors, earned a high school equivalency diploma, achieved a 3.82 grade-point average as a biochemistry and chemical biology major at Wayne State University in Detroit and won acceptance to the University of Toledo’s medical school in Ohio.

A long-shot option for obtaining legal status is a private- relief bill, which applies to just one person and is frequently related to an immigration issue. While about 100 such bills are introduced in each two-year congressional session, few are enacted: So far in the current session of Congress, which started Jan. 1, 2011, none of the 82 that have been introduced has reached the White House. In 2009 and 2010, only two became law. In 2007 and 2008, none succeeded.

Immigration officials usually do not start deportation proceedings on someone who is the subject of private-relief legislation, according to Levin’s spokesman, Gordon Trowbridge. Levin sponsored similar legislation for Chukwueke in 2007 and 2009; both bills languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Passage of the 2011 bill became time-sensitive when the medical school made his enrollment conditional on getting a green card.


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