Maggio + Kattar wins permanent residency for detained Rwandan genocide survivor

Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 5:15pm
Elizabeth Carlson, Attorney

Joseph is a refugee from Rwanda with Burundian Citizenship who was detained for several months in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. His family was targeted during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and narrowly escaped with their lives. They lived in a refugee camp for the next twelve years where they continued to be the target of ethnically motivated violence. Eventually, the family was able to come to the United States as refugees. Unfortunately, they were placed in a low-income, high crime area, and continued to be surrounded by violence. Despite their poor circumstances, Joseph went to work immediately after their arrival in the United States. He quickly learned English, began taking classes towards obtaining his GED, and worked to support his family. Joseph and his family have remained close knit through all they have suffered.

After being in the United States for nine years, Joseph accumulated three petty larceny convictions, making him subject to deportation. His parents have suffered greatly, and rely chiefly on Joseph for their financial and emotional needs. Joseph faced deportation to Burundi, a country on the brink of civil war, where he has no family, no connections, and no future. Burundi shares a similar history to Rwanda; they too have been plagued with a history of ethnic conflict, civil war, and genocide.

Last week, the Arlington Immigration Court granted Joseph’s application for a waiver and application for adjustment of status. We believe that Joseph’s life has been saved through this decision. He was released from custody and reunited with his loving family.