Advocates File Lawsuit for Records on Delays in Reuniting Refugee Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2022

Advocates File Lawsuit for Records on Delays in Reuniting Refugee Families

Boston, MA Last month, Church World Service (CWS) and the National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA) filed a lawsuit in federal district court under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the U.S. Department of State to release records related to significant delays faced by refugees and asylees who seek to reunite with immediate family members still living abroad. The records sought are related to the Department of State’s processing of petitions requesting that the spouses, children, and parents of individuals with refugee or asylee status join them in the United States.

Although Congress indicated that the U.S. government should process these petitions within 6 months, it often takes years for the Department of State and other agencies to do so. As a result of these excessive delays, many separated families face serious hardship.

“Refugees and their families rely on adjudication of these petitions for reunification,” said Katherine Cogswell, the Associate Director for Immigration Legal Services at CWS. “They and the public at large have a right to understand how the State Department is processing them and what is causing these excessive delays.”

“The Department of State’s long and often unexplained delays in deciding these petitions leave families in limbo for years,” said Kristin Macleod-Ball, Senior Staff Attorney at NILA. “The first step in fixing this problem is exposing the agency policies causing these harmful delays to public scrutiny.”

The complaint can be viewed here.


Media Contacts:

Trina Realmuto, National Immigration Litigation Alliance

(617) 819-4447,

Katherine Cogswell, Church World Service

(919) 680-3585,


The National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA) is an immigrants’ rights nonprofit that strives to protect, enforce, and expand the rights of noncitizens and individuals perceived to be noncitizens by engaging in impact litigation and by building the capacity of immigration attorneys to litigate in federal court. Follow NILA at, on Twitter at @NILA_ImmLit, and on Facebook at NatImmLitAlliance.

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