A father and child hold a protest sign to demand the closure of detention camps at the U.S.-Mexico border. – Philadelphia, PA / USA – July 12, 2019 (Shutterstock)
Washington D.C. – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a new memorandum that will require in-person interviews for most asylees and refugees who petition for their spouses and children to receive asylum, refugee status. The agency’s stated goal of the policy “is to safeguard the integrity of the U.S. immigration system against fraud and other risks of harm,” and recognizes that implementation “may lengthen the overall adjudicative process.”
The following is a statement from Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service – the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable immigrant populations:
This policy shows that, on immigration, the Trump administration is playing until the final whistle blows – this time, to the grave detriment of refugees and asylees seeking to reunite with their families. Repeatedly, its policies have prioritized a misguided crusade against immigration fraud over the sacred principle that families belong together.
The changes laid out in this memo would, as the agency itself notes, make refugees and asylees already present in the U.S. “face the added burden of appearing at USCIS field offices.” To launch such a policy during an uncontrolled pandemic – and after a decisive election no less – is both dangerous and unwarranted.
Refugees have already been through war, violence, persecution, and years of extreme vetting just to begin their chance at a new life here in the United States. It is shameful to add yet another bad-faith bureaucratic hurdle to reuniting petitioners with family still in harm’s way.