Victor Chukwueke’s Bill Makes Its Way to the President
December 20, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC, – Victor Chukwueke received “the best Christmas present ever” earlier this week when the House passed a special bill, SB 285, to grant him legal status in the U.S. The bill, passed through the Senate in July of this year, is now on its way to President Obama for his signature. If signed, Chukwueke will receive permanent residency in the U.S. and be able to attend medical school to become a surgeon.
Victor was born in Nigeria on February 10, 1986. During his early childhood, he developed a benign tumor caused by Neurofibromatosis, which grew on his frontal and right facial area, subsequently resulting in a very significant facial deformity. Growing up in Nigeria, where he could not get medical treatment for his condition, Victor was the subject of much ridicule from his peers and faced a lifetime of hardship as a result of his medical condition.
Fortunately with the help from nuns at a Nigerian orphanage, at age 15 Victor came to the U.S. on a B-2 visa to undergo surgery in 2001. Since his arrival in Michigan, Victor has been in and out of hospital, and has had seven major surgeries to remove the Neurofibromatosis and reconstruct his face—something that would not be possible if he was forced to go back to Nigeria.
Victor’s application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status was rejected twice because he could not afford the application fee and he fell out of status. This happened when he was merely 16 years old while Victor was preparing for a painful surgery, with little to no resources to help him navigate the complicated immigration system. After hearing about USCRI’s work helping immigrant youth, Victor contacted USCRI for assistance on his case. USCRI connected Victor with support groups, a mentor, pro bono attorneys from Benach Ragland LLP, and helped Victor to reach out to Senator Carl Levin in 2007 to request sponsorship of his private bill.
Senator Carl Levin sponsored the bill granting Victor lawful permanent residency. Once the bill is signed Victor will attend the University of Toledo, College of Medicine. He wants to be a surgeon so that he can give back to the country that saved his life.
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U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants