Credible Fear Lesson Plan 'Undermines the Asylum Process' - Bill Ong Hing

"On February 28, 2014, you released a revised version of the "ADOTC Lesson Plan, Credible Fear of Persecution and Torture Determinations" to USCIS Asylum Office Directors and Asylum Officers throughout the country. I have reviewed the 47-page Lesson Plan and am deeply troubled by its tenor, format, and content. In my opinion, the Lesson Plan undermines the asylum process set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act by sending an erroneous message to Asylum Offices about the standard to be applied in assessing credible fear claims. As I detail below, a fair reading of the Lesson Plan leaves one with the clearly improper message that Asylum Officers must apply a standard that far surpasses what is intended by the statutory framework and U.S. asylum law.

Additionally, as a matter of public policy, the application of the credible fear standard in a harsh manner that does not give the benefit of the doubt to imperfect yet reasonable claims will be something that our nation will regret in the not-too-distant future. In part III of this memo, I will briefly recount tragic mistakes our country has made in the past when it comes to certain classes of asylum seekers. In retrospect, our actions in those situations were not simply embarrassing; they were shameful because lives were unnecessarily lost as a result of bad judgment and political expediency." - Prof. Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco, Apr. 21, 2014.