Thursday, November 14, 2019

An asylum officer blows the whistle on remain in Mexico

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports: "Tensions have been rising between asylum officers and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that oversees the asylum system. And the union for asylum officers has already issued a legal brief condemning MPP amid litigation over the program. But this asylum officer’s personal indictment of the policy goes much further."

The Washington Post article details the disclosures of an anonymous "deeply dismayed asylum officer" who left his job “after careful consideration and moral contemplation.” The asylum officer wrote a remarkable manifesto that was obtained by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), as part of Merkley's Congressional investigation of Trump’s asylum policies. The Merkley’s report, still forthcoming but previewed by Sargent for the article, will conclude that the administration has undertaken “systemic efforts” to “effectively rewrite U.S. asylum laws, rules and procedures,” with the overarching goal of “gutting the asylum system” but “without congressional approval or involvement.” Merkley’s report will also conclude that Trump’s policies have "intentionally inflicted trauma” on asylum seeking families.

Among the disclosures, the asylum officer impugns the program for furthering a racist agenda as its end:

The MPP both discriminates and penalizes. Implementation of the MPP is clearly designed to further this administration’s racist agenda of keeping Hispanic and Latino populations from entering the United States. This is evident in the arbitrary nature of the order, in that it only applies to the southern border. It is also clear from the half-hazard implementation that appears to target populations from specific Central American countries even though a much broader range of international migrants cross the southern border.

The officer also alleges that means are breaking down. Under MPP, if asylum seekers in U.S. territory declare in their initial interview a fear of being returned to Mexico, they’re supposed to get a second credible fear screening with a trained asylum officer. But the asylum officer charges that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is being deliberately punitive by making it harder for applicants to succeed:

The implementation is calculated to prevent individuals from receiving any type of protection or immigration benefits in the future. As such, it is a punitive measure intended to punish individuals who attempt to request protection in the United States. There is no clearly established policy and system for notifying applicants of changes to hearing dates and times, or for the applicants to provide change of addresses to the courts and Border Patrol. Without a highly functional notice system, the administration has ensured that a high number of applicants will miss their court dates.

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