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Home News Health Originally published December 27, 2012

Congress Passes Private Bill for African Student, Grants Permanent Residency

by Alexis Taylor
AFRO Staff Writer

    In this Thursday, April 21, 2011 picture, from left, Victor Chukwueke, 25, of Oak Park, Mich., Brian Towns, 24, and Rob Neda, 23, both from St. Clair Shores, Mich. play with football at a fundraiser held for Chukwueke to bring his mother and sister from Nigeria to see his commencement speech at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Chukwueke left Nigeria a decade ago to undergo multiple surgeries to remove tumors caused by neurofibromatosis and has not seen his family since. He is a chemistry major studying prostate cancer drugs and is applying to medical school. Neda is the founder of student organization Righteous Benevolence which sponsored the fundraiser. (AP Photo)
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It’s been a long road for Sopuruchi Victor Chukwueke.

Abandoned at a Nigerian orphanage because of the large tumors taking over the front and right sides of his face, ridicule followed him everywhere he went as he became an outcast.

But his first break came on August 21, 2001 when, according to biographical information released by his attorney, orphanage nuns helped the 15-year-old Chukwueke travel to America for major surgery to be completed pro-bono.

More than a decade and seven surgeries later, Chukwueke is an aspiring doctor who recently moved one step closer to seeing his dream realized.

In an act of compassion, Congress passed a bill in mid-December granting the young man, now 26, permanent residency after denying the Nigerian native the privilege on two previous occasions.

“Victor’s amazing courage and determination exemplify much of what is so great about our country,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement. “Already, his example has enriched Michigan and our nation, but I know that his contributions to our country are only beginning.”

Levin first introduced the private bill, an unusual piece of legislation which applies to only one individual, in February 2011. According to CNN, Levin’s measure was the first private bill to pass Congress in two years.

The bill, if signed by President Obama, will act as a tailored version of the DREAM Act for Chukwueke—but instead of granting temporary residency, his citizenship status will be permanent.

Chukwueke has already earned his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University. Levin praised Chukwueke for his biochemistry and chemical biology degrees, completed with a 3.82 grade-point average while he was battling medical challenges and fighting to change his status as an illegal immigrant.

With his permanent resident status, Chukwueke will now be able to officially attend the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine, which required that he be a permanent resident before making his acceptance into the institution official.
According to his lawyers, Chukwueke plans to use his medical degree to perform for others the same life-saving surgeries he received.



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