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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

The Little Things Mean a Lot

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Over the years, I've attended many asylum interviews.* I notice that different Asylum Officers conduct the interviews in different ways.* While much of this is personal style, some of the differences strike me as something more.* I wonder whether these different interview techniques have any effect on the*decision.**Below are*some of the differences I've noticed, and some thoughts about them:


- Some officers type their notes; others write the notes by hand.* Also, some officers*seemingly write down every word the applicant says, while others do not.* These differences are pretty substantive, and they speak to the need to record*asylum interviews.* *Asylum*Officer notes are not*only used to make decisions; they are sometimes used for impeachment purposes in Immigration Court.**Notes that are vague or illegible may not be admissible in court.* Also, if different officers are preparing their notes in different ways, it impacts the supervisor's ability to*review the Asylum Officer's decision.* If interviews were recorded, the officers could take whatever notes they*needed to make their decision, and we would still have an accurate record of the interview available to the supervisors and the Immigration Court.*



Some interview styles work better than others.



- Some officers make photocopies of original documents, even when we have submitted copies of those documents already.* Other officers rely on the copies we have submitted.* I don't think this makes much*difference in the case, but it is a bit odd.* Why does one officer trust the copies that we've submitted while another officer wants to make her own copies?*


- Some officers copy the lawyer's ID, others do not.* Again, I don't see how this makes any substantive difference, but I have no idea why one officer wants a copy of my photo ID while another has no need for it.


- Most Asylum Officers review the form I-589 with the applicant at the beginning of the interview and allow the applicant to make any needed corrections.* A few officers do not review the form and instead make corrections as needed throughout the interview.* This difference strikes me as substantive because it may affect how an officer views the applicant's credibility.* If the officer reviews the form at the beginning, and then the applicant's story is not consistent with the form, the officer can find him not credible.* However, if the officer does not review the form at the beginning of the interview, it is a bit unfair to base an adverse credibility finding on a statement that is not consistent with the form, since the applicant did not have an opportunity to correct any errors.


Well, those are a few differences I've noticed.* Whether they have any effect on decisions, I don't know.* But it seems to me that whenever decision makers use different techniques in their interviews, it is worth noting.


Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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