Democrats demand answers after asylum interviews suspended in Boston

Democrats demand answers after asylum interviews suspended in Boston
© Getty Images

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 Ann WarrenUnited Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Omar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa MORE, a 2020 presidential contender, Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey challenges Democratic Senate campaign opponents to climate change debate Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey Markey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge MORE and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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.”