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Removal of 26 Documents for Asylum Officer Training from the USCIS Website

Sunlight Foundation: “The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed a cache of materials on its asylum process shortly after President Donald Trump took office, a reduction in access detailed in our latest Web Integrity Project report. The 26 removed documents, which collectively run to several hundred pages, constitute training materials for USCIS asylum officers, offering detailed instructions on how the agency screens immigrants under U.S. law and international asylum agreements. Immigration attorneys who spoke with the Web Integrity Project said the materials, which are still relevant under current policy, were an important training resource for them as well, offering a valuable glimpse at an often opaque process. The materials, which had been available on the USCIS website in an easily accessible format since at least 2013, spanned a wide range of subjects. One contained a primer on international human rights law. Another detailed the U.S. statutes and international agreements that established the framework for the asylum process. A six part series on interview techniques described everything from how to approach conversations with torture victims, to working with interpreters and proper note taking. Some of the most useful documents, according to Victoria Neilson, a senior attorney for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., dealt with the mechanics of the asylum process. As part of her work with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Asylum and Refugee Committee, Neilson helps train lawyers who are new to the particulars of asylum work. Documents describing the day-to-day process that asylum seekers face can help inexperienced lawyers prepare their clients for what they might face in an interview, Neilson says. And the documents that used be hosted on the USCIS site were an invaluable resource…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

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