Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, RAICES, and the Southern Poverty Law Center each represent people in expedited removal proceedings. On May 31, 2022 these organizations, with support from Democracy Forward, provided their experiences and input to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice’s interim final rule regarding Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration of Asylum.

The experiences of these organizations have informed their views of the fundamental unfairness of credible fear (CF) interviews and subsequent immigration judge reviews of negative credible fear determinations. These organizations also encouraged the Departments not to eliminate the opportunity to request reconsideration (RFR) of negative CF determinations from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), as the Departments’ NPRM had proposed, because this process provides an essential, although by itself inadequate, safeguard against removing asylum seekers with potentially valid claims.

In their words, “We applaud the Departments’ decision to modify the IFR to continue to permit RFRs. We are troubled, however, by the Rule’s addition of strict procedural limitations on this process. We encourage the Departments to reconsider those limitations, and instead establish and make public clear guidelines for RFRs. These guidelines should include a longer time frame for filing and set forth the bases on which USCIS will exercise its discretion to reverse a negative CF finding. We also continue to believe that reforming the CF screening process generally—returning to in person CFIs, for example—is essential. These reforms, which would reduce the number of errors at the front end, would make RFRs less necessary.”

The organizations further noted they had previously offered through comment several recommendations for reform of the credible fear screening process, given its centrality to the new asylum review procedures. In this iteration of the rulemaking, the organizations again asked the Departments to consider making the enumerated improvements to credible fear screening.

Read the entire comment here.