Asylum officers react as Remain in Mexico policy returns

By: Santiago Caicedo

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With the Remain in Mexico policy in full swing in El Paso, some asylum officers have some serious concerns about the immigration program.

Soon, migrants looking for asylum in the U.S. coming in from Matamoros will be interviewed by an asylum officer.

Asylum officers are federal employees who work for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“I think a lot of people don't even know that we exist,” said Michael Knowles, an asylum officer and spokesperson for the American Federation of Government Employees Union. 

Although these meetings are mostly virtual, Knowles and hundreds of other officers will be interviewing immigrants to see if they're eligible to continue their claim with an immigration judge. 

Knowles says the Remain in Mexico policy defeats the purpose of the migrants asking for asylum in the first place, especially when many claim to be fleeing violence.

"We feel that we've been made complicit in a human rights violation,” Knowles said.

Through a recent press release, the AFGE stated that U.S. law and international treaty obligations give migrants the option to ask for asylum in the U.S. and therefore stay in the U.S. in the meantime, not be expelled and told to wait in Mexico.

Many migrants then become targets of extortion and organized crime. Some humanitarian organizations share the same concern.

"I think there's a false narrative that people have this American dream and are just looking for a better life, when, indeed, they are fleeing for their lives," said Marisa Limón Garza, the department director for Hope Border Institute El Paso.

The Federal Employee Workers Union can't go on strike and they'll have to continue following a court order to continue with MPP.

It’s unclear when MPP will implemented in Brownsville or Laredo, but local organizations are getting ready to receive more migrants.


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