News & Resources

Separated Muslim Burmese Refugee Family Sues U.S. Government

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

January 5, 2023


Spencer Tilger


Plaintiff: “My husband sacrificed so much to ensure my daughters and I would be safe, and now we are fighting to make sure he can be too.”

(Greenbelt, MD) – Today, a Burmese mother who has been separated from her husband for nearly a decade filed a lawsuit calling on the U.S. government to reunite her family. She is represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).

N.K. and her four daughters fled Burma in 2013 to escape escalating violence against Muslims, especially women and girls. Her husband sold their home and valuables to pay for their journey, and hoped he would see his family again when they reached safety. After a dangerous boat voyage and years waiting at the infamous detention center on the island of Nauru, N.K. and her daughters were resettled in Indiana as refugees in 2018.

N.K. filed a refugee family reunification petition in 2020 to reunite with her husband, yet there has been almost no movement on their case. Meanwhile, the situation in Burma has become even more dangerous since the military coup in February 2021. Today’s lawsuit seeks the prompt adjudication of her petition to have her husband join her and their children in the United States. 

Plaintiff N.K. said:

“The situation in Burma is getting worse and I worry about my husband’s safety constantly. Our daughters are his pride and joy, and it has been so hard to not have him home with us. He has missed many important milestones, and it is our dream that he will be here to celebrate when our third daughter graduates from high school next year. My husband sacrificed so much to ensure my daughters and I would be safe, and now we are fighting to make sure he can be too.” 

Family reunification is a cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy, but delays have plagued the process for years. IRAP has been working with separated refugee families in the courts and through other advocacy to pressure the U.S. government to address this issue.

IRAP Senior Staff Attorney, Trinh Tran, said:

“It is unacceptable that N.K.’s petition is languishing while her husband remains in danger. Families belong together, and the U.S. government must act quickly to reunite this family and address systemic delays keeping refugee families apart.”

Additional Information

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.