Trump administration official says she will refuse to carry out a new 'racist and illegal' policy: report

Trump administration official says she will refuse to carry out a new 'racist and illegal' policy: report
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghgosian
Human Rights

An asylum officer is saying she will refuse to carry out the Trump administration’s attempted rule change essentially blocking the right to apply for asylum in the U.S. for many Central Americans and others, telling BuzzFeed News that the Asylum Ban 2.0 is “facially illegal”—and she says she’s not alone in her thinking. Other asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “think it's racist and illegal.”

Under the Trump administration’s change, “asylum seekers who pass through another country first will be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. southern border. The rule … also applies to children who have crossed the border alone,” the AP reported. But unless asylum-seekers are somehow finding a way to fly or sail to the U.S., this is an attempt to block the right to asylum for anyone who isn’t Mexican and asks for protection at the southern border.

The officer, whose name was not revealed, said she found out about the change just like the rest of us: on the news on Monday. She said, “I was horrified.” She said she didn’t hear anything from USCIS about the official changes until later that night in the form of an email. “I saw it right as I was coming to work,” she said. “We’re all aghast,” knowing they deal with children and families fleeing violence and persecution. “If it's not enjoined,” she continued, “I will ask for other duties, I guess. I need this job, but my oath of office won't allow me to make adjudications contrary to the law.”

Leading organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, have already filed a federal suit challenging Asylum Ban 2.0, saying that “this is the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet. It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand.”

This isn’t the first time asylum officers have condemned Trump administration policies illegally targeting the right to asylum. Earlier this year, their labor union vocally opposed the inhumane policy forcing asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico, saying it “violates our nation's longstanding tradition and international treaty and domestic obligation not to return those fleeing persecution to a territory where they will be persecuted.”

These are the people we need in government, but the asylum officer interviewed by BuzzFeed News says the situation, for her, is unsustainable, and she is beginning to look for other jobs. “Our current ‘leadership’ has the idea that asylum is a loophole, which is offensive to American ideals, our own law, international obligations, and all of the asylum officers who took this job to help people.” This is a loss for vulnerable families and the right to asylum—and a horrible win for the Trump administration.

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