On November 15th, 2019, the Los Angeles Times published a story about an asylum officer who is standing up and fighting back against President Trump’s “illegal” and “immoral” immigration policies. Doug Stephens, a Northern California-based asylum officer, told reporters from the Los Angeles Times that he will no longer implement the Trump Administration’s so-called ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (the Remain in Mexico policy). Under that policy, asylum applicants are being sent back to Mexico while their claim is reviewed and processed.
The First Asylum Officer to Formally Rebel Against the MPP
Doug Stephens is the first asylum officer to formally announce that he will not implement the Remain in Mexico policy. Mr. Stephens, a trained attorney, says that he is being given an illegal mandate by the administration—each day he is required to conduct too many interviews. As a result, he is essentially forced to rush asylum seekers through the system. Going forward he says he will not carry out the “illegal” policy, even though he acknowledges that he may be fired for standing up for migrant rights.
In the first nine months of 2019, the Remain in Mexico policy has affected tens of thousands—with at least 16,000 children being returned to Mexico. Alarmingly, vulnerable migrants are often being sent back to unsafe conditions in Mexico. Not only are there concerns about criminal violence from international drug cartels and other gangs, but there is a lack of adequate medical services and insufficient housing.
Other Asylum Officers are Informally Fighting Back
While Mr. Stephens is the first asylum officer to outright challenge the system, other asylum officers have also reportedly been rebelling against the Trump Administration in other ways. According to Mr. Stephens and other unnamed officials cited in the report, many asylum officers have been calling in sick, requesting transfers, and taking other more subtle action to slow down the process of returning vulnerable migrants back to Mexico.
This American Life Profile: Asylum Seekers Affected By the Remain in Mexico Policy
Recently, the popular public radio show ‘This American Life’ did an entire program on asylum seekers who have been sent back to Mexico to await a decision on their application. The episode documents just how difficult the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy has made life for so many people, including families with young children.
Notably, migrants who participated in the program consistently expressed fear about being sent back to Mexico. Sadly, some had already experienced harm or mistreatment in the country. Yet, because of the Trump Administration’s policy, asylum officers are all but forced to send migrants back there to wait in dangerous conditions.
Call Our Los Angeles, CA Asylum Lawyer Right Away
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Los Angeles asylum attorneys provide diligent, reliable legal representation to clients throughout Southern California. We will help you explore all the available options. For a confidential consultation, please call our Los Angeles law office at 213-262-2000 or send us a message directly through our website.