Ethiopian Asylum Seeker

Navigating the Labyrinth: An Ethiopian Asylum-Seeker's Struggle Against USCIS Bureaucracy

In a story that encapsulates the arduous journey many asylum-seekers face, Berhanu Hika Roba, an Ethiopian man, has taken a stand against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over the prolonged delay in processing his asylum application. This case, unfolding in the Texas federal court, shines a light on the intricate and often frustratingly slow wheels of the U.S. immigration system.

The Heart of the Matter

Filed under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Mandamus Act, Roba's lawsuit is more than a legal battle; it's a poignant tale of survival and the quest for justice. Having fled to the United States in 2016 after enduring wrongful imprisonment and torture by the Tigray People's Liberation Front in Ethiopia, Roba immediately sought asylum. However, his quest for safety and stability has been marred by a seven-year wait, while his daughter's application, ironically based on his persecution, was approved within two years.

A Struggle on Multiple Fronts

The lawsuit underscores the multifaceted struggles asylum-seekers endure:

Health and Economic Hardship: Roba's protracted wait has not just been a test of patience; it has severely impacted his health, caused stress-related ailments, and even affected his ability to earn a living due to delays in work authorization.

Family Separation and Safety Concerns: Adding to his woes, Roba's wife and two daughters remain in Ethiopia, with the ongoing crisis exacerbating his anxiety about their safety.

Bureaucratic Roadblocks: Despite multiple requests to expedite his case, USCIS has denied these appeals, deepening his predicament and uncertainty.

Legal Implications and USCIS's Accountability

This case raises critical questions about the efficiency and responsiveness of USCIS. By challenging the agency's delay as a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, Roba's lawsuit demands accountability and expeditious handling of such life-altering applications.

Humanizing Immigration Law

Roba's ordeal is a stark reminder of the human faces behind immigration cases. As immigration attorneys and advocates, it is our duty to ensure that such stories are not lost in the labyrinth of legal procedures and that every individual's right to a fair and timely process is upheld.


Berhanu Hika Roba's case is a clarion call for a more compassionate and efficient immigration system. It's a narrative that resonates with many who find themselves entangled in similar bureaucratic challenges. As legal professionals, we stand in solidarity with those like Roba, advocating for a system that recognizes and addresses the urgency and gravity of each asylum seeker's plight.


This blog post is based on the article "Ethiopian Asylum-Seeker Sues USCIS Over 'Delayed' Process" by Henrik Nilsson, Law360, published on January 11, 2024.

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