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FLASHBACK: USCIS Surveys Asylum Seekers For ‘Customer Satisfaction’

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) surveyed asylum applicants in 2012 in an apparent effort to improve its level of “customer” satisfaction.

Asylum applicants were asked to evaluate their asylum interview and overall asylum office visit — when USCIS works to determine if they pose a national security threat — in the survey. After analyzing the 933 responses, USCIS boasted that asylum applicants gave the agency a rating 20 points higher than U.S. residents gave the federal government at the time.

“The overall Customer Satisfaction Index for USCIS Asylum Offices was 87 out of 100—about 20 points higher than the latest federal government average for customer satisfaction,” USCIS wrote in an announcement of the survey, which it designed and implemented in the 12 languages most common among asylum applicants.

“Front desk staff received an overall satisfaction rating of 94 out of 100,” it added.

Survey takers were asked to rate things about their interview and asylum office experience, such as politeness and wait time, and whether their asylum officer was “argumentative or biased.”

USCIS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency has come under fire for its vetting process recently as the European migrant crisis continues to worsen and President Barack Obama implements a plan to admit thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States. Republican lawmakers in particular have expressed concern the vetting process is not sufficient to weed out migrants who pose a threat to national security. (RELATED: House-Passed Refugee Bill Ignores These Key Concerns)

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions pressed Matthew Emrich, associate director of fraud detection and national security at USCIS, on the subject in October. “Aren’t you left to basically looking at whatever document [Syrian applicants] produce in conducting an interview?” he asked.

Emrich repeatedly asserted USCIS does everything in its power to vet the applicants.

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