Asylum Screeners Told to Take More Skeptical Approach

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The Trump administration has sent new guidelines to asylum officers, directing them to take a more skeptical and confrontational approach during migrants’ initial interviews, The Washington Post reported, citing internal documents and staff emails. Under the new guidelines, asylum officers will more aggressively challenge applicants whose claims of persecution contain discrepancies, and they will need to provide detailed justifications before concluding that an applicant has a well-founded fear of harm if deported to their home country.

With a record number of Central American families arriving at the border and swamping U.S. courts with asylum claims, President Trump has repeatedly scoffed at the protections and has told crowds that dangerous criminals are using it to game the system and stay in the United States. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled the government may for now continue sending some asylum seekers back to Mexico while their cases are pending. Statistics show that most migrants who claim persecution pass the initial credible-fear screening, but far fewer ultimately receive asylum from a judge. An avalanche of new applicants in recent years has contributed to a backlog of more than 860,000 cases in U.S. immigration courts, and it can take years for an asylum applicant to get a final answer in court.

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