Is the asylum interview supposed to be an adversarial interrogation?

Federal regulations require that an asylum interview not be adversarial.  That means that the officer is not supposed to be battling with, nor antagonizing, the person being interviwed.

Several good reasons exist for this approach.  First, the interview is the first and best opportunity for the asylum seeker to make their case.  If they are intimidated or yelled at by the asylum officer, they will not be able to thoroughly present their case.

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If the asylum officer makes a mistake and denies a case that should have been approved, very real world consequences may arise – the person may be deported to a place where he or she would be killed.  They could also be placed in removal proceedings which is not a pleasant experience.

The purpose of the interview is two-fold: (a) gather information and (b) disseminate information.  The asylum officer has the affirmative duty to “elicit all relevant and useful information bearing on the applicant’s eligibility” for asylum.  This means more than simply asking questions – it means having a dialogue without any pre-conceived notions of what the outcome should be.

The asylum officer should also disseminate or provide information regarding the process.  Asylum is an intimidating and complicated set of procedures.  One role the officer has is to make sure the person going through the process has a good understanding of what is happening.

Unlike in deportation court, there is no one at the immigration interview arguing that the alien should be deported or that asylum should be granted.  There is no formal cross-examination and the officer is “not an advocate for either side; rather the asylum officer is a neutral decision-maker.”

We hope this information helps you understand what an asylum interview is supposed to be like.  If you have questions or concerns regarding an updcoming asylum case or filing, please be sure to call as at (314) 961-8200. 

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