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Asylum officers say they're being overruled on danger of sending migrants to Mexico: Report

Asylum officers say they're being overruled on danger of sending migrants to Mexico: Report
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Asylum officers say they were not properly trained under new Trump administration protocols that send some asylum-seekers to Mexico while their cases are processed, and that higher-ups often overrule findings that migrants should not be sent to Mexico, according to Vox.

Asylum officers told the publication they were not trained on new standards under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, announced in January, until they arrived at the border, and that the training they eventually received was minimal and consisted primarily of a PowerPoint restating information they had already seen in official documents about the MPP program.

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Union members told Vox that in one case, an officer missed the training session and was still told to conduct interviews.

Asylum officers also told Vox that while their assessments have historically been subject to review by asylum headquarters, the reviewers have typically deferred to officers’ assessments. Under the MPP Program, they said, opinions that migrants will be in danger if they are sent to Mexico are frequently reviewed and overturned by headquarters, while opinions that the asylum-seeker should be sent to Mexico receive little to no review.

“If you want to go positive, you will face Herculean efforts to get it through,” one union member told the publication. “If your supervisor says yes, headquarters will probably say no.”

While most MPP screening interview opinions are negative, officers told Vox only positive ones are being reviewed by headquarters, and multiple union members told the publication that a supervisor was told not to issue any positive decisions without checking with both headquarters and the other officers on their team. They reported two other cases of headquarters overruling both an officer and their supervisor when they agreed that an interviewee who had been kidnapped by drug cartels while traveling through Mexico would be in danger if they were sent there, according to Vox, saying they didn’t qualify because the cartels had not explicitly targeted them as part of a “particular social group.”

Over 1,600 migrants have been sent to Mexico to await the processing of their claims under the MPP program so far, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“Every MPP assessment is subject to review by a Supervisory Asylum Officer before the assessment is deemed final and the individual is notified of the result," a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official told The Hill. "If at any time during the process an individual asserts a fear of return to Mexico, USCIS will interview that individual. If they meet the standard set forth in the guidance, they will not be returned to Mexico to await their next hearing. USCIS continues to adjudicate all applications, petitions, and requests as effectively and efficiently as possible in accordance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations.”

—Updated at 3:01 p.m.