The Trump administration has new guidelines for U.S. immigration officials that could make it harder for asylum-seekers to get their claims approved.
The new "lesson plan" is urging asylum officers to be more skeptical when evaluating whether people seeking to enter the U.S. have a "credible fear" of harm at home. Instead, the administration is instructing those officers to be wary of fraud. They are also being told to ignore cultural and psychological factors that may contribute to migrants' fears.
If they don't have documents to prove they've been persecuted, migrants' cases will rely on their own testimony. But former Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel Stephen Legomsky said, "Without taking cultural and psychological factors into account, evaluating the person's credibility becomes nearly impossible."
Usually, migrants who pass the "credible fear" interview can stay in the U.S. until their case has been decided. President Trump claims migrants are exploiting "loopholes" in the law to stay in the U.S. since their cases can often drag on for months or even years.
But a new policy under the Trump administration can now force migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases linger in court.
The president recently ordered more changes to the asylum process. The new rules require people to pay application fees and ban those crossing the border illegally from receiving a U.S. work permit while waiting for the outcome of their cases.
This new guidelines for "credible fear" evaluations may be used to train border patrol agents to conduct interviews normally done by asylum officers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Newsy reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but the agency did not directly address the report. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson told Newsy that the agency "updates its training periodically." The spokesperson also said USCIS "considers credible fear claims on a case-by-case basis, taking into account relevant country conditions information and adhering to all applicable laws, regulations, policies and precedent decisions."
The government's asylum evaluation guidelines have been revised in 2006, 2014 and 2017. The most recent changes, from April 30, take effect this month.