US asylum officers union opposes Trump policy

Washington D.C. Bureau

American Federation of Government Employees filed brief in federal court

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The Trump Administration is getting push back for a policy from some of the very people expected to enforce it — the union for the US Asylum Officers.

In a brief filed in federal court, the asylum officers expressed opposition for the Trump Administration policy that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for a hearing.

“They felt morally and ethically conflicted and they were concerned they were being ordered to carry out illegal activity,” said Michael Knowles, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924.

Knowles is also an asylum officer and is responsible for initally evaluating whether someone has a credible claim for protection in the US.

“We, more than anyone else, are in touch with the reality because it’s we who do the work,” he said. “So we did this not as a political act but as an act of conscience.”

The brief said the administration’s policy forces a vulnerable population to return to a hostile territory where they are likely to face persecution.

“We’re concerned that we may be sending people back to danger or to their deaths,” Knowles said. “Mexico is not a safe place for Central American asylum seekers.”

The union also said the policy complicates the process by adding additional steps.

The Acting Director of USCIS, Ken Cuccinelli, accused the union of playing political games. He spent the past weekend defending the policy. He tweeted:

“The policy protects both the vulnerable, while they wait for their hearing, and our asylum system from choking on meritless claims.”

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