News & Resources

New Lawsuit Challenges Unexplained Revocation of Three Refugee Families’ Resettlement in U.S.


May 14, 2024


Spencer Tilger |


(Greenbelt, MD) – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed a new lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of three families living in Kenya, each of whom fled the Democratic Republic of Congo due to war and safety concerns more than a decade ago. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees designated each of the families as refugees and referred them for resettlement to the United States.

In each instance, the family completed the process to qualify for resettlement to the U.S. and received confirmation about their travel being booked to the United States, only to receive a last minute notification from the U.S. government informing them their travel plans were revoked, without explanation. In anticipation of resettling in the United States, the families gave up their homes and belongings, causing additional suffering when their travel was canceled at the last minute. They would all later have their refugee applications denied.

“After nearly a decade living in Kenya as a refugee without stability, I was overjoyed when my family and I were approved for resettlement in the United States,” said plaintiff Jean Pierre Ndaruhutse. “To prepare for our new life in America, we sold or gave away all our belongings. When the U.S. canceled our travel a week before we were set to leave, I was devastated. We never even received an explanation and my request for one has been pending for years. I hope this lawsuit will help my family finally get some answers so that we can have another chance to safely resettle in the United States.”

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, calls on the Court to uphold the law, find that the denials of the plaintiffs’ refugee applications were unlawful, and to give them another, fairer chance at refugee resettlement in the United States.

“Canceling refugee travel plans is a deeply destabilizing practice that affects far too many refugees,” said IRAP Nierenberg Litigation Fellow Melissa Fich. “At the bare minimum, these families deserve an explanation why their cases were closed and another chance to resettle in the United States.”

The families were first identified by Youth Voices Community (YVC), a refugee-led organization based in Nairobi and one of IRAP’s new partnerships through the Audacious Project.

“It’s an indescribable relief to finally complete the difficult journey of resettlement – from enduring countless interviews to navigating the complexities of medical exams and flight bookings. But just as the finish line comes into view, the U.S. embassy, without explanation, abruptly cancels your long-awaited flight. The shock, the disappointment, reverberates through the hearts of hundreds of refugees here in Kenya,” said YVC Executive Director Chocho Isaac Fashingabo. “Each canceled case is a story of hope deferred, of lives left in limbo. It’s imperative that these cases be expedited, that the voices of the marginalized be heard, and that justice, long overdue, finally finds its way.”

Additional Resources

  • Read the complaint: HERE
  • Learn more about the case: HERE

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a global legal aid and advocacy organization working to create a world where refugees and all people seeking safety are empowered to claim their right to freedom of movement and a path to lasting refuge. Everyone should have a safe place to live and a safe way to get there.