Mr. Stephens is a lawyer.
Video by Leah Varjacques and
In the Video Op-Ed above, a former asylum officer reveals why he resigned: to protest President Trump’s policy requiring migrants to remain in Mexico while awaiting hearings.
Doug Stephens had been an asylum officer for two years. But two days and five interviews that resulted in sending asylum seekers back to danger shook him. He drafted a memo detailing his legal objections to the policy, and circulated it to 80 of his colleagues, his supervisors and a member of Congress. And then he quit.
Mr. Stephens is not the only asylum officer who has grappled with following orders. In interviews with a half-dozen current and former asylum officers across the country, The Times learned of individuals leaving their posts, requesting job transfers and falling into deep depression.
The right to asylum has been a cornerstone of international immigration law since the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The United States, along with 144 other nations, made a commitment to protect those who arrive at our borders with “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
To date, Mr. Trump’s remain in Mexico policy, officially known as one of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” has left nearly 58,000 asylum seekers stranded in Mexico.
Doug Stephens, a lawyer, resigned his post as a Citizenship and Immigrations Services asylum officer in San Francisco in August.