The Trump administration is looking to make it more difficult for migrants to obtain asylum by having border agents be in charge of their interviews and forcing them into doing more to prove they truly fear returning to their home countries, multiple senior administration officials told NBC News Tuesday.
The sources, who were not named, said that Trump's top advisers were pushing outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to make changes to the asylum process, and that top aide Stephen Miller has argued that Customs and Border Protection agents will be tougher on those seeking asylum and will pass through fewer people after their initial screenings.
Asylum seekers are now questioned by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers and must only state a fear that they will be persecuted in their home countries.
The credible fear interview allows about 90 percent of seekers to make it past the first phase of the processing, but only 10 percent of those eventually receive asylum. Further, many wait for months or even years in the United States while waiting for their cases to come up.
A CBP official speaking anonymously to NBC said agents already are overwhelmed and adding interviews to their duties will create further backlogs.
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