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Today, the Tahirih Justice Center filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the use of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to screen asylum seekers for their ‘credible fear’ of persecution. This policy change violates federal immigration law and was enacted by officials who did not have the authority to do so. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of women and children currently detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley. Tahirih has also sought information on this clandestine policy through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the government to release records on this troubling practice.

“Credible fear interviews are supposed to be the non-adversarial, first step in the extensive asylum process, in which asylum seekers who have experienced severe violence recount intimate details of their persecution. For decades, these interviews have been conducted by asylum officers, specially trained to work with individuals who have experienced trauma,” said Julie Carpenter, Tahirih Senior Litigation Counsel. “Using Border Patrol—federal law enforcement officers whose mission is to capture and detain immigrants—to conduct these immediate interviews intentionally puts the fate of survivors of gender-based violence, and other asylum seekers, in the hands of agents who lack the necessary expertise in asylum law.”