Up to 1,200 DHS employees to screen illegal immigrants for asylum More than 1,000 federal immigration officials are being deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to conduct virtual interviews of immigrants who illegally crossed the border and made a claim of asylum.
Up to 1,200 government employees, including those tasked with the Biden administration’s effort to reunite families who had been separated at the border under the Trump administration, will be pulled from their normal jobs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and put on a mandatory 60-day deployment to the southern border, according to a report by the Washington Times on Tuesday.
DHS AND STATE DEBUT PLAN TO SCREEN MIGRANTS AT OUTPOSTS IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
Officers from across the Department of Homeland Security’s USCIS agency began a weeklong training this week ahead of two-month deployments, which could start on May 11.
John Lafferty, USCIS’s asylum division head, told employees in a private briefing last Friday that the agency had to pull people normally tasked with handling legal immigration matters, such as visas, to help out.
“We’re going to have to take a hit on other priorities in order to do this, but the department has made very clear that this is a priority,” Lafferty said. “The administration, the White House, has made clear this is a priority.”
USCIS has up to 700 asylum officers available to respond to the influx of immigrants illegally crossing the border but will pull up to another 500 from non-asylum jobs.
The agency had asked for volunteers across its workforce of 19,000 employees but received too few responses and opted to mandate deployments.
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The employees who do not normally do asylum screenings will work off-site, doing video interviews with immigrants. Border Patrol has added phone booth-like rooms into its facilities for this reason.
USCIS did not respond to a request for comment.
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