Levin welcomes passage of bill for 'Victor' Chukwueke

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., welcomed House passage today of legislation that he authored allowing Sopuruchi "Victor" Chukwueke, a Nigerian student whose courage in the face of illness and discrimination has inspired many, to remain in the United States.

The Senate approved the legislation in July. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

"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."

Chukwueke was born into impoverished conditions in Nigeria and suffered from neurofibromatosis, a condition in which tumors deformed his face. His parents abandoned him to an orphanage, and the Catholic nuns there arranged for him to travel to the United States for treatment when he was 15.

Relocated to Southfield, Mich., he endured seven surgeries over the next 11 years. While undergoing treatment, he dedicated himself to his education, graduating from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and chemical biology with a 3.82 grade-point average.

Because he was in the United States under an expired visa, he was living under threat of deportation from the United States. Levin introduced legislation, known as a private bill, granting Chukwueke permanent legal resident status. Though such bills rarely become law, immigration authorities generally defer deportation proceedings so long as such a bill is pending.

The bill would allow Victor to enroll in medical school at the University of Toledo. The school has delayed his entry until resolution of his immigration status.