Over the years, Iíve 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 Iíve 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 supervisorís ability to review the Asylum Officerís 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 donít think this makes much difference in the case, but it is a bit odd. Why does one officer trust the copies that weíve submitted while another officer wants to make her own copies?
- Some officers copy the lawyerís ID, others do not. Again, I donít 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 applicantís credibility. If the officer reviews the form at the beginning, and then the applicantís 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 Iíve noticed. Whether they have any effect on decisions, I donít 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.