The top asylum official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be reassigned, according to five current and former DHS officials, as reported by Politico. According to the sources, the official, Asylum Division Chief John Lafferty, will become deputy director of the Potomac Service Center in Arlington, Va., beginning Sept. 10, which many may see as a demotion.
The decision comes as President Donald Trump proceeds with a sweeping overhaul of the asylum system. President Trump and his top officials have argued that many asylum seekers don’t have valid claims and use the benefit to remain in the U.S. and work legally. The administration has plowed ahead with a range of policies to limit access to asylum, including the “remain in Mexico” initiative, which forces certain non-Mexico asylum seekers to stay in that country while they await rulings on their cases.
The White House blamed Lafferty, who has led the asylum division for the past six years, for an inability to toughen asylum standards, according to one current DHS official. In particular, the administration has sought to tighten the standard to claim “credible fear” of persecution in one’s home country. The credible fear test is the first step in certain asylum claims, and the administration contends it allows people to enter the U.S. even if ultimately they won’t be granted asylum. The email that announced Lafferty’s new role came from Jennifer Higgins, an associate director for refugee and asylum operations.
John has served with distinction as the chief of the asylum division for the past six years and has led the division through some of its most challenging times and a period of unprecedented growth and change. John’s leadership was characterized by a selfless, unwavering, and passionate commitment to those he served — the applicants, his staff, and the American public.
In the new role, Lafferty will help oversee 700 agency staff and 200 contractors processing permanent resident applications and international student work permits, according to the email. The move could show a change in priorities at the White House as they begin to take on fraudulent credible fear claims that allow aliens into the U.S. when they may not truly meet the standard of persecution needs to receive asylum.
For the full story, please visit Politico
Updated: Fri, Sep 6th 2019 @ 2:03pm EDT