Saturday, September 15, 2018
Topic Magazine's Anonymous Interview with USCIS Asylum Officer: "When I Say I'm Complicit, This Is What I Mean"
Seth Freed Wessler at Topic Magazine has published an interview with a USCIS asylum officer, who spoke anonymously about the culture at the USCIS asylum office, fears of what additional changes could come, the trauma experienced by asylum seekers as well as asylum officers hearing their stories and the officer's thoughts on what it means to be complicit with the policies of the current Administration. Here's one excerpt from the interview:
"OK, I’m going to tell you, in a very specific example: when the kids got separated from their parents. I am going to tell you about that. I was interviewing moms in detention who were separated from their children. Officials took their children away from them. All that they wanted from me was to know where their kids were. They would ask me, 'Where are my children?'
But I was told not to tell them where their kids were. I was told not to tell them. When I say I’m complicit, this is what I mean. All I wanted to do was give them information about where their children were. Think about this: I am sitting with a woman who has no idea what’s happening, who has been separated from her children. All she wanted was her kid. And all that I was allowed to share was a 1-800 number that ICE gave us, a 1-800 number for them to call. The 1-800 number was from some office, the document came from ICE, but I heard that it didn’t always work.
This hateful, harmful agenda that the president and Sessions have created—being inside of that, it makes me feel complicit.
I’ve talked with other USCIS staff who say they were not given that same instruction, to withhold that information, and as a result, they said they did tell parents they met with where their children had been taken. How do you account for that difference?
This was a major policy—taking children from parents—and there was no clear way of dealing with it in the government. I was told one thing, and whoever that was was told something else."