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Columns

June 27, 2013

The American Dream, achieved

With all the flap nowadays about immigration and the American Dream becoming a myth, I’d like to introduce you to Bitrus and Olabisi (Bisi) Gwamna, of Mt. Pleasant. They are from Nigeria, South Africa. Both have PhD’s. Bitrus is a professor of communications at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, and his wife, Bisi, is an adjunct professor of English at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, and an online instructor with Keiser University in Florida. They have four boys, all born in the United States. Bitrus has been blind since birth. In 2011 he underwent a kidney transplant after five months of dialysis. On May 24 of this year, after residing in the U.S. for 27 years, Bitrus and Bisi Gwamna finally became U.S. Citizens.

The path to citizenship has obviously not been easy. Both Bitrus and Bisi had college degrees when they came to the United States on student visas. Once they completed their PhD’s at Ohio University in Athens, they were given one year to find employment, whereby their student visas would turn to work visas, or the Green Card. They were not able to find work in that amount of time and faced possible deportation, which would have been tragic, since all four of their boys had been born in the United States. Trips to the immigration office to plead for an extension often proved fruitless and very frustrating. Many times the immigration officials would deny their appeal without even looking at their file.

Bitrus and Bisi can understand why many immigrants choose the illegal route, since the legal path can be so difficult and expensive. (Citizenship cost the Gwamna’s $1,400.) They compared it to driving on the interstate highway system. If you miss your turnoff, you have to go miles out of your way to get back on course. That’s why you sometimes see drivers making illegal u-turns.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about rental permit fees. The Centerville City Council has conducted two working sessions and a third one is planned in order to get a feel for the public's appetite about raising rental permit fees from charging a landlord $25 every two years to charging a certain amount per rental unit per year. So, the question of the week is, "Are you in favor of Centerville increasing rental permit fees?"

A. I'm in favor.
B. I'm not in favor.
C. I'm not sure.
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