A new bipartisan push by Senators for the DHS to implement a program called Operation Safe Return.
1. Within 1-3 days, families would receive a U.S Border Patrol interview. Those who do not claim credible fear would be deported.
Those who do claim fear of returning home would get a second interview within the next two days. Translators would be provided.
3. Over their first 4 days in the U.S., all would receive a medical exam and be provided "fair access" to attorneys.
4. Within 9 days, asylum officers would conduct an interview.
5. Within 1 day of that interview, the officer’s determination will be sent to DOJ and homeland security.
6. Over the next 2-4 days officials would judge the case.
7. Within a total of 15 days, homeland security would remove family units “whose negative credible fear determinations are affirmed by the immigration judge.”
8. Those found to have a credible fear of returning will be steered to file an asylum claim.
While I support speeding up the asylum process, there are a few issues that I have with this.
First of all, Border Patrol agents should not be tasked with making the initial determination. CBP officials are not properly trained to conduct these interviews, there is a severe risk of bias and there is also an issue with how trustworthy these officials and agencies are. There have been numerous accusations of mistreatment and with recent news regarding the private Facebook groups, it does not seem prudent to place this responsibility in the hands of such a group. This should be handled by asylum officers in all cases where an individual is seeking asylum.
Second, while expedited processing is beneficial is many cases, the asylum seeker should be allowed to postpone certain aspects in order to protect due process. If an individual needs more than 15 days to gather evidence, they should be granted some additional time.
Third, this does very little to push back against the abuses of the system which are being pushed by Trump. We need a system which clearly and fairly defines criteria for asylum and does not allow room for such abuses. Trump has made it clear that he wishes to reduce asylum as much as possible. The new policy to refuse asylum to anybody who hasn't claimed it in a county that they have passed through must be abandoned, and we need clear language allowing asylum claims related to domestic violence and gang violence (both of which Trump and his administration have sought to reduce).