This week, IRAP and co-counsel, on behalf of its plaintiffs in the lawsuit, reached a settlement with the U.S. Government in JFS v Trump. The lawsuit challenged an agency memo from October 2017, which blocked refugee resettlement from 11 countries and indefinitely paused the follow-to-join process that reunites family members of refugees already in the United States.
The terms of the settlement require the government to expedite the processing of all refugees who had reached the final steps of refugee processing when processing was suspended due to the memo. The government has also agreed to count all refugees who are processed and granted admission under the terms of the settlement towards the fiscal year 2018 refugee admissions goal, thus opening the door for more refugees to be admitted under this year’s admissions goal.
In response to the good news, individual plaintiffs who are poised to benefit from the settlement are expressing their hopes:
Afkab, a Somali refugee, who has been separated from his wife and children, remarked on the impact of the settlement:
“I believe this is a great success for all refugees around the world, especially families who are separated since we got change and good outcome. When I speak about how I feel, it is unimaginable. I am feeling very happy and I didn’t even sleep last night because of how happy I am. I hope to welcome your family in the best country in the world that everyone in the world dreams about in America, especially in Columbus, Ohio. I am very thankful for the American government. I would like to ask the government to bring more people and reunite separated families and give a second chance to those who are in need so they can find a better life especially refugees around the world who struggle.”
John Doe 1, an Iraqi refugee who worked as a translator for the U.S. military and has already waited for over five years in dangerous conditions apart from his family, spoke about his journey and why the settlement is so important to his life:
“The settlement means that justice is bringing matters to their right way. It represents the hope for a safe life among my U.S. friends that I served with and the new friends that have stood by me for these long five years away from my family that I left behind!”
“[My family has been] waiting for the same moment for 5 years and 2 months! It’s the moment of deliverance from this dangerous and unstable life! My friends and my U.S. officers who granted me the love and the force and the hope to stay strong – they’re the love itself! So, I salute them all; I have fought with them and now they’re fighting for me!
There are many feelings that I can’t express because my language isn’t good enough to do that! All I can say is that I found my essence with them! Why? I don’t know why, but I believe that was God’s will! I can’t wait for that moment to meet them once again! I have hope that this settlement will make that moment a reality!”
An anonymous Iraqi plaintiff, whose father-in-law was in the final stages of processing to be resettled to the United States when the agency memo was implemented, spoke about what it means to live in America:
“Growing up in this great nation has taught me that no matter who you are and whatever your nationality, race, religion, or gender maybe, you have an equal opportunity to be the best you can be. To anyone who may have lost hope in the land of the free and the home of the brave: the beacon of freedom will remain great because people of good will and good faith are abundant. No matter who is in charge and what their rhetoric may portray, I feel thankful and blessed to be part of such a nation.”