Democrats demand answers after asylum interviews suspended in Boston

Democrats demand answers after asylum interviews suspended in Boston
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Democrats are pressing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for answers on why asylum interviews in the agency's Boston office have been suspended.

In a letter on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE, a 2020 presidential contender, Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyBipartisan senators call for investigation of TikTok's child privacy policies OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 MORE and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHouse Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor Democrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 MORE, all Massachusetts Democrats, wrote to the agency, noting that the decision to suspend new interviews in the Boston Asylum Sub-Office and reassign staff to the U.S.-Mexico border, will leave about 40,000 pending asylum cases in New England frozen.

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"We remain gravely concerned with the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the southern border and continue to call on the Trump Administration to take urgently needed steps to address that crisis," the lawmakers wrote. "We worry, however, that the decision to gut USCIS's New England asylum offices will fail to address the humanitarian border crisis and will exacerbate the already-strained backlog of asylum cases in our communities."

In the letter, Pressley, Markey and Warren call for acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli to answer questions on when the agency first decided to reassign staff in the Boston office, how many asylum officers are employed there, how long they will be deployed to the border, and what other regional asylum offices have had staff deployed.

Suspending new asylum interviews, they write, will do nothing to affect the factors driving asylum applicants to the U.S.-Mexico border in the first place.

“Instead, it will halt the processing of 40,000 pending cases, forcing applicants who have been waiting, in many cases, several years for adjudication to wait even longer in uncertainty,” the letter states.

“This appears to be another cruel and unnecessary action by the Trump Administration to hurt immigrants.”