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After Seven-Year Separation, Somali Refugee Files Lawsuit to Reunite with Family

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

April 11, 2023


Spencer Tilger |


(St. Cloud, MN) – Today, Rabi Mohamed, a resettled Somali refugee who has been separated from his wife and their sons for over seven years, filed a lawsuit against the United States government with the support of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Prokosch Law LLC. The lawsuit challenges USCIS’s unnecessary requests for evidence to prove the family’s relationship, which has blocked the Mohameds from reuniting for years.

When he was a child, Mr. Mohamed’s family fled civil war and persecution in Somalia and moved to a refugee camp in Ethiopia where he eventually met his wife, Sahra. When the refugee petition Mr. Mohamed’s parents filed for him when he was a child was approved in 2015, he made the difficult decision to travel to the United States alone. Mr. Mohamed filed for his family to join him soon after arriving in Minnesota, and hoped the separation would be brief. However, seven years later, his wife and their three young children are still living in the same camp, a situation that Mr. Mohamed describes as “not really living.” Mr. Mohamed has only been able to visit his family in Ethiopia once in the past seven years, and has never had the opportunity to meet his youngest son.

“Every year, I say that maybe this is the year I will reunite with my family. Whenever I talk to my youngest child, he always asks, ‘When am I going to come to see you?’ I have no answer and that hurts me more,” said Mr. Mohamed. “It’s time this case was concluded and we can be reunited.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first reunification setback Mr. Mohamed has faced. His parents and siblings were very close to being approved for resettlement in the United States when former President Trump’s Muslim and refugee bans prevented them from traveling. They are also still waiting for their case to move forward again and to finally reunite with Mr. Mohamed.

“The Mohamed family has done everything right, but USCIS keeps requesting unnecessary evidence to prove their relationship, and continues to keep the family in the dark about the status of their application,” said IRAP Equal Justice Works Fellow Alexandra Zaretsky. “President Biden declared that family reunification is in the national interest, yet years-long delays continue to keep families apart. It is outrageous that the U.S. government is forcing Mr. Mohamed’s children to grow up in a refugee camp without a father and without the benefits of a united family that they deserve.”

Additional Information

  • Read the filing: HERE
  • Learn more about how the Biden administration can address family reunification delays: HERE
  • Learn more about IRAP’s Family Reunification efforts: HERE

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) develops and enforces a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.