TU alum Nakwa gets green card
May 8, 2011 1 Comment
by Erin Brock
After years of uncertainty, Transylvania alumnus Lino Nakwa ’09 has finally received his green card, or documents ensuring permanent residency in the United States.
At age 12, Nakwa and his older brother were kidnapped by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), but they escaped after a month. They fended for themselves for two years and then stayed in a refugee camp in Kenya for 8 years.
In 2002, Nakwa and his four younger siblings immigrated to Louisville, Ky., after receiving refugee status. There, he worked full time at UPS and took classes at Jefferson Community and Technical College in an effort to support himself and his family.
While attending Transylvania University, Nakwa ran into some residency problems. He applied for his green card in 2008, but he was denied. While his records state that he was kidnapped and held against his will by the SPLA, they also state that he received “military-type training.” Because of this detail, Nakwa was denied a green card and faced potential deportation.
At this point, members of the Transylvania community stepped in to try and help Nakwa. Well over 100 students, faculty and staff wrote letters to the office of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other public officials in efforts to direct attention to the case.
“Everybody at Transy said they’d help me,” Nakwa said. “Professors, students and even President (Charles) Shearer wrote letters.”
Though Nakwa appealed the decision, the case rested in the hands of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. His case was granted a special extension and all Nakwa could do was check back periodically to determine the status of his case.
Throughout his predicament, the Transylvania community remained supportive of Nakwa’s efforts and hopes to stay and make a life in the United States.
“It means a lot; I wish I could come back and shake hands with everyone who helped me,” Nakwa said.
Since his graduation with a degree in business administration in 2009, Nakwa has worked in order to save up money for graduate school and looks forward to applying to graduate programs. He also is excited to apply for citizenship, which he intends to do as soon as possible.
Nakwa cites his presence at Transy as one of the main reasons he has been able to stay in the United States.
“If I had been anywhere else, I would never have felt such support,” Nakwa said. “No one would have paid any attention to my situation.”