Report: Trump Administration Orders Asylum Officers To Get Tougher With Applicants

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A directive from the White House is reportedly ordering asylum screeners to be more skeptical and confrontational with applicants, marking the administration’s latest attempt to weed out fraud.

Asylum officers are to more aggressively pursue inconsistencies they see from applicants who claim they are facing persecution in their home countries, according to emails and documents obtained by The Washington Post. Officers will also be required to provide comprehensive justifications prior to determining an applicant has a legitimate fear of harm if deported from the U.S.

Additionally, officers are to focus on any discrepancies between what a migrant might have told an arresting Border Patrol officer and what the migrant said during an asylum application interview.

“Officers conducting credible fear interviews should also be addressing any more detailed inconsistencies between the applicant’s testimony during the credible fear interview and other testimony in sworn statement,” read a staff email from John Lafferty, the chief of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) asylum division, obtained by The Washington Post.

The new directive follows numerous other changes the Trump administration made to clamp down on immigration fraud at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border Patrol agents are rolling out a DNA-testing program that can quickly verify whether immigrants are being honest about familial relationships — the pilot program can mitigate the number of “fake families” attempting to reach the U.S. interior. Law enforcement agents are fingerprinting children 14 and under, a reversal from previous policy as they face an influx of child smuggling rings.


Central American migrants -mostly Honduran- taking part in a caravan to the US, are pictured on board a truck heading to Irapuato in the state of Guanajuato on November 11, 2018 after spending the night in Queretaro in central Mexico. (ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Overall, the Trump administration is pushing more federal resources to the border to deal with the illegal immigration crisis.

“What we’re currently doing is surging resources from ICE’s Homeland Security investigations to the border. We’re sending human trafficking experts, document fraud experts, forensic interviewers, victim assistance specialists, because our first and primary goal is the safety and security of these children,” Matthew Albence, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said May 1 about the changes. (RELATED: Trump Asking Congress For Billions More In Emergency Border Funding)

The Trump administration is due to start training Border Patrol agents to conduct asylum interviews themselves shortly after apprehension of a migrant. The policy, once it’s underway, could dramatically reduce stress on the nation’s immigration courts and hasten the pace at which asylum rejects are deported.

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