Many of us recently returned from spending time with family over the holiday season, a time to gather together and celebrate Christ’s birth. But for some refugees and migrants, the holidays may be a time of loneliness , separated from family who cannot enter the country.
In 2008 the Department of State suspended the refugee family reunification program, denying refugees resettled in the United States the ability to reunify with their children, spouses, and parents. Over the next three years, LIRS heard from countless refugees overseas and in the United States who longed to be with their loved ones.
The federal government is now close to reinstating the program, but with troubling changes. The revised program mandates DNA testing and places the cost burden on recently arrived refugees and prohibits refugee children from filing for their relatives until they turn 18. LIRS is also concerned that the new program could place refugee families at risk if the government does not develop a way for women to safely reveal their children’s paternity information without throwing the family’s case, as well as her safety, into jeopardy.
Yes, LIRS is relieved and thankful that the government is finally reinstating the program and that refugee families will have a way to reunite. However, we remain prepared to hold the U.S. government accountable if families are unnecessarily denied access and protection.