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Client Story

Mohamed and Muzaahim | 2021 Annual Report

“Are you Mohamed? Your son is here. Your son is safe.”

Mohamed had waited a long time to hear those words. For three and a half years his young son, Muzaahim, had been separated from their family by more than 8,000 miles.

Muzaahim was six months old when the rest of his family was resettled in the United States. Through a long follow-to-join process complicated by travel bans, federal program suspensions and a pandemic, they never gave up hope of being reunited. Neither did the Institute’s Immigration Services team working on their behalf.

Mohamed filed the paperwork to begin the follow-to-join process as soon as he could. Not long after, the federal follow-to-join program was indefinitely suspended. When it returned, a whole new process emerged.


At every turn, Mohamed says the Institute staff was feeling what his family was feeling.

Waiting was difficult. Muzaahim’s caregivers in Kenya had limited access to smartphones but his family connected with Muzaahim via video chat as often as they could.

Mohamed trusted that the Institute was making progress, one day at a time. Immigration lawyers told him that if the case was being managed by the Institute, their family was in good hands.

Over time, the Institute’s Immigration Services team enlisted the Office of U.S. Senator Tina Smith, who worked with others to elevate and expedite the family’s follow-to-join application, and coordinated with agencies in Kenya and around the United States. People all around the world were working to help bring Muzaahim to Minnesota.

After three and a half years, Muzaahim was finally on his way to the United States. Mohamed called three times to verify the news. After all the twists and turns of waiting, he wanted to be sure.

“It was a miracle to me to hear my son is coming from Kenya.”

The night before Muzaahim arrived, Mohamed couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t drink water.

Muzaahim was an infant the last time he had seen his dad in person. As soon as Muzaahim saw Mohamed he said aabo, the Somali word for “dad.”