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April 02, 2019

New Program Tasking Border Patrol with Asylum Duties a Farce

Washington, D.C.—In response to reports of a new pilot program which will allow Border Patrol agents to conduct credible fear interviews themselves, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:

This program will turn the credible fear screening process into an absolute farce. It is a transparent effort by the administration to more quickly deport asylum seekers without giving them a chance to explain their fear of persecution or violence to a trained asylum officer. This plan is both ill-conceived and dangerous. Border patrol officers are simply not qualified to do this. These officers don’t have the legal background, the country condition expertise, or the necessary training to conduct these critical interviews. The Trump Administration, once again, is working overtime to gut the asylum system. 

This program is reportedly going to be rolled out in two weeks. It is inconceivable that an administration hell-bent on dehumanizing and demonizing refugees would be capable of giving agents the necessary training to impartially conduct these interviews. This will put unfit, untrained, and unqualified agents in charge of determining who warrants potentially life-saving protection in the United States. It is simply another attempt to evade safeguards that Congress put into U.S. law to protect asylum seekers from return to persecution.  

Section 235 of the Immigration and National Act requires that a trained asylum officer conduct all credible fear interviews. Under U.S. law, these officers are required to have “professional training in country conditions, asylum law, and interview techniques comparable to that provided to full-time adjudicators of applications.”

To speak with Acer contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.