U.S. settles lawsuit by rejected refugee claimant
The U.S. government will pay $87,500 to settle a lawsuit by a woman who was refused political asylum and put on a plane back to Kenya with her two-year-old daughter.
Lawyers for Rosebell Munyua, 45, said it's the first settlement of its kind and a precedent-setting victory for future refugee claimants.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the deal was not an admission of wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit, Munyua claimed that when she arrived in San Francisco in 2001, she told immigration officers she and her husband were members of an opposition party in Kenya and had been beaten and tortured.
Despite her protests that she would be killed, Munyua said she and her daughter were sent back to Kenya, where she went into hiding for more than six months.
"When my daughter and I were forced by American officials to go back to Kenya, I felt like they were pushing us back into a burning house and sending us to our deaths," she said in a statement Thursday.
Munyua left Kenya again for the U.S. and was granted asylum when she arrived in Houston in 2002.
In 2003, she sued the government for $1 million, claiming it had been negligent in refusing her earlier request.
Immigration officials denied in court papers that Munyua asked for refugee status or mentioned the threat of being killed. They also said she lied to embassy officials in Kenya about not having family members in the U.S.
The lawsuit also including allegations of assault, emotional distress and false imprisonment, but they were thrown out by the judge.