Asylum Officers Work for the American People, Not Foreign Nationals

Opponents of the Trump administration have filed suit to block the president’s Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) program – known colloquially as the “stay in Mexico program.” That’s not surprising. Neither is the fact that the suit is being pursued in the notoriously activist Ninth Judicial Circuit.

What is surprising, however, is that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers have jumped on the anti-Trump bandwagon. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, the union representing asylum officers, filed a friend of the court brief claiming that, “[The MPP] violates our Nation’s longstanding tradition and international treaty and domestic obligation not to return those fleeing persecution to a territory where they will be persecuted.”

Aside from the questionable ethics demonstrated by federal employees who insert themselves into a lawsuit between the government and foreign nationals pressing bogus claims for refuge in the U.S., there are also a number of egregious legal flaws in that assertion:

International law doesn’t obligate the U.S. to accept all migrants who allege that they are fleeing persecution. Nations who are parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees must refrain from returning people to a territory where they will face threats to their life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. This is referred to as the duty of non-refoulement.

However, the duty of non-refoulement pertains only to genuine refugees. It does not apply to individuals who are emigrating to escape “generalized conditions of civil strife” (i.e., the general breakdown of order, that frequently accompanies things like crop failures, droughts, civil wars and contested regime changes).

And domestic law doesn’t require the U.S. to let in everyone who arrives at the border requesting asylum either. Asylum is a discretionary form of relief. That means that the United States is not required to grant it to anybody, even individuals who establish that they are eligible. Discretion in approving asylum applications allows asylum officers and immigration judges to take into account the legal, public safety and national security interests of the United States while allocating a limited number of asylum slots.

Most of the people currently streaming north from Central America aren’t fleeing anything, they’re emigrating in search of better economic opportunities – and the U.S. would be well within its rights to turn away economic migrants. But the fact is, that the U.S. isn’t turning anyone away, it is simply asking them to wait their turn in Mexico.

While Mexico may have its own problems, claims that asylum seekers aren’t any safer in Mexico because they face persecution there are utterly baseless. Both the Mexican government and Mexican civil society have been furnishing food, shelter and other assistance to migrants waiting to be interviewed by U.S. immigration officials.

It’s profoundly disturbing when officials hired by the federal government to conduct full and fair reviews of asylum applications stop seeing themselves as guardians of the American people and start acting as advocates for foreign nationals who are trying to find a way around our immigration laws.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    No wonder most of those crossing pass their firs “Credible Fear Claim”. I have been saying for a while that Trump should fire those asylum officers who are obviously activist and not public servants.

  2. avatar

    “It’s profoundly disturbing when officials hired by the federal government to conduct full and fair reviews of asylum applications stop seeing themselves as guardians of the American people and start acting as advocates for foreign nationals ….” This statement fits like a glove on most of the state department swampers, too.

  3. avatar

    It’s high time that the American people stood up and take back control of our country. This country belongs to the people not the old age had beans that are currently running our government. The American people have the right to ride up,band together.with guns if needed and take back our country from these insane left libtards, the social media (who by the way is trying to squash the consertive media) Facebook, Twitter, Google, and all of the fake news media morons that think they can interfere in our elections. This democratic party make me sick and they will lose again in 2020. Period

  4. avatar

    Well, obviously, congress isn’t the only group in American government that no longer represents the American people but always acts in the interests of foreigners including illegal aliens. If the people we have deciding asylum claims so obviously stand with the lying foreigners, then all is lost.

  5. Pingback: Asylum Officers Work for the American People, Not Foreign Nationals – ukraineng

  6. avatar

    Jeh Johnson, former head of the Dept of Homeland Security under Obama told the Washington Post that proposals by the Democrats to decriminalize crossing the border and ending all detentions would be “tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders” and he is concerned that a future Democratic president would do just that. He said: “If we had such a policy, instead of 100,000 apprehensions a month, it will be multiples of that”. He also acknowledged that none of the present detention policies are anything new and were carried out during the Obama administration. The media has collective amnesia on that fact and were not making this 24/7 uproar when it was Obama.

    • avatar
      AlwaysAmerican on

      Thank you Jeh Johnson. Hope you can step in and repair the infiltrated Democrat Party.