Freedom of Information Act Litigation

Through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Boston University Faculty Julie Dahlstrom and Heba Gowayed, in coordination with pro bono counsel, have obtained important statistical data about the adjudication of T visa applications for survivors of human trafficking by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This data sheds new light on adjudicatory practices and outcomes for immigrant survivors of trafficking.

In 2022, BU Law Professor Julie Dahlstrom and BU Sociology Professor Heba Gowayed filed a federal lawsuit seeking important records about outcomes for immigrant survivors of trafficking, including information about request for evidence (RFEs), rejections, denials, and issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs), the charging document to place noncitizens in removal proceedings.

For immigrant survivors of human trafficking, the T visa program is an important lifeline to protection and safety from deportation. The T visa program, established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, provides immigrant survivors of human trafficking with access to immigration status, work authorization, and the ability to petition for family members. Read the report and executive summary just issued by BU Faculty and the BU Law Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program about the T visa program.

These documents are intended to be helpful for attorneys, advocates, activists, and policymakers in the anti-trafficking field. If you are a T visa applicant seeking assistance, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or here for important resources and/or referrals. More information about the T visa program is available online here.

Thank you to Tom Hamlin and Francois Ecclesiaste at Robins Kaplan LLP and Christopher Hamlin at McNamee Hosea, P.A., who served as pro bono counsel in the FOIA litigation. We would also like to thank Elissa Flynn-Poppey, Evelyn French, and Alec Zadek at Mintz Levin who provided invaluable guidance on the 2020 FOIA requests to USCIS. Thank you to Jordan Boyle, Karen Clarke, Roshni Parikh, and Belem Sanchez for their excellent legal research and significant contributions.