Here’s a Sound, if Obscure, Congressional Precedent about Amnesties

By David North on January 4, 2013

One of the obvious troubles with amnesties is that they usually set in motion additional chain migrations – still more immigrant arrivals that would not have happened had the original amnesty not taken place.

Congress has recently acted in the case of one notable alien from Nigeria, to let him become a legal permanent resident, but, at the same time, to make sure that he does not start any unlimited chain migration. It makes an interesting precedent should the next Congress – despite the advice of the Center for Immigration Studies – contemplate an amnesty of any kind.

Private immigration bills, such as in this case, once passed by the hundreds, are rare these days. Each names a particular alien and grants the alien a specific benefit, either a green card or citizenship, that the alien could not otherwise obtain.

Sen. Carl Levin

One such bill, apparently one of only two passed by the recent Congress, was signed into law by the president recently. It had been introduced by a senior Democratic senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, and it will grant a green card to Sopuruchi Chukwueke, a Nigerian who has quite a story, to which I will return in a minute.

Much more important than the legalization of one person is the quiet little precedent set in this and a few other recent private immigration bills. The subject of special attention gets green card status, but, to quote the bill:

(d) DENIAL OF PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR CERTAIN RELATIVES – The natural parents, brothers and sisters of Sopuruchi Chukwueke shall not, by virtue of such relationship, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C 1101 et seq.).

Private immigration bills passed in earlier years do not carry this provision, but the more recent ones do, suggesting that at some level Congress is aware of, and not fond of, chain migration. May Congress remember this precedent!

The beneficiary of this legislation is apparently blocked, should he become a citizen, from bringing in his siblings and parents (who might, later, bring in other relatives as well), but he is not blocked, as either a green card holder or a citizen, from marrying an alien and creating legal status for her.

Back to Chukwueke: according to his supporters, and a Nigeria-focused website "Nairaland Forum", the young man was:

... born in Nigeria on February 10, 1986. During his early childhood, he developed a benign tumor ... which grew on his frontal and right facial areas, subsequently resulting in facial deformity [making him] ... blind in one eye ... [and was] ... taken to the US for surgery by a nun when a native doctor said he should be drowned ...

The young man went through seven operations, though the photographs on the website still indicate a severely deformed face; subsequently he graduated from Wayne State University in Michigan getting a 3.82 grade point average, and was admitted to the University of Toledo's medical school.

While all this was going on he fell out of legal immigration status, which is odd because he could have had an F-1 visa for all or most of this time. Or a humanitarian parole in the early years. The University of Toledo then did something which I have not encountered before; apparently aware of his illegal status, it said that he was admitted to the medical school, but on the condition that he obtain green card status by August 1, 2012. Why not the much more common foreign student visa?

In any case, his supporters got Sen. Levin to introduce the bill, which, like all private immigration bills, passed or not, brings the threat of deportation to a stop, or at least to a pause.

Reading between the lines one can figure out that the U.S. has already invested a million dollars or so in this young man; the seven operations must have been funded by public sources, as he seems not to have well-to-do parents and must have had no American medical insurance when he arrived here. Then he must have been given a full scholarship to both Wayne State and to the medical school, or perhaps, to some extent, U.S.-sourced loans

But, as is often the case, the remarkable ability of Chukwueke and his supporters to manage the health care, and the educational, systems was not matched by their ability (or their efforts) to manage the immigration system, and he became and stayed an illegal alien, when he probably did not need to have had that status.

Hence the private bill.

Needless to say, none of the media coverage goes into any detail about this failure to manage the INA.