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Seventy-five Border Patrol agents have been pulled from the field to help adjudicate the credible fear claims of asylum seekers at the Southern border.

Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan revealed in a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Thursday that the administration has agents working in other capacities even as the number of people presenting at ports of entry to claim asylum has declined since last summer. Morgan confirmed that in addition to the 75 Border Patrol agents, another 16 port of entry officers who normally work screening vehicles and pedestrian crossers at ports of entry are reviewing asylum claims, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

"It's a balancing act because, you're right, I am pulling critical resources, you know from the lines to do this. But again, as we do that balancing, in the end we see it's a positive net gain for us on the front end because we're alleviating the backlog and other conditions," Morgan told the House appropriations subcommittee on homeland security. Morgan said the program is not meant to be permanent and that more asylum officers should be hired.

The Washington Examiner first reported last May that DHS planned to implement a plan that would give federal law enforcement on the border the authority to conduct interviews with asylum seekers who fear returning to their home countries.

DHS's plan was to essentially deputize law enforcement to carry out citizenship officers’ jobs in order to reduce the number of people who have passed that stage and are waiting on asylum decisions. Those decisions usually take two to five years due to the nearly 1 million immigration cases waiting to be decided by fewer than 500 immigration judges nationwide.

To supplement U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers who normally interview migrants who claim a credible fear of returning to a home country, Border Patrol agents on the southern border were trained how to conduct "credible fear interviews," which immigrants must pass to go on to claim asylum. Agents conduct the interviews shortly after apprehending people who have illegally crossed from Mexico to the United States or among people who have sought asylum at a port of entry crossing.

For the full story, please visit the Washington Examiner.

Updated: Fri, Mar 13th 2020 @ 10:30am EDT