Asylum Officer Ladd
Job Title: Asylum Officer
Location: Houston Asylum Office
Asylum Officers represent USCIS when people seek asylum in the United States. Officers:
- Interview applicants about claims of past persecution and fear of future persecution;
- Research country conditions to evaluable applicants’ claims;
- Review law enforcement databases to identify any potential bars to asylum, such as criminal behavior or national security concerns; and
- Write assessments to document eligibility decisions.
Asylum Officers also conduct screening interviews for people placed in expedited removal proceedings who request asylum or express a fear of returning to their country of nationality.
For safety reasons we are not identifying or showing the officer whose answers appear below.
Which of your skills do you most rely on as an Asylum Officer?
Definitely my communication skills! The individuals I meet every day are from across the world, and many have experienced terrible circumstances. I have to conduct thorough and impartial interviews to elicit their testimony, but I must do so in a non-adversarial way while accounting for intercultural communication issues. Learning how to “read” people during these interviews was a huge challenge at first.
How did you come to work as an Asylum Officer for USCIS?
During law school, I participated in immigration clinics as a student attorney, providing legal representation to immigrants in removal proceedings and helping people apply for asylum. When it came time for me to select an agency and program for my Presidential Management Fellowship, the USCIS Asylum Division was a logical next step. I found my colleagues were all very committed to protecting people from persecution -- this realization inspired me to continue working in this field after completing my fellowship.
What is most rewarding in your job?
My work as an Asylum Officer has placed me in a unique position where, every day, I meet new people from around the world who are fleeing from persecution. I collect testimony from asylum-seekers, often eliciting harrowing accounts of bravery and perseverance, while at the same time reviewing each case for potential fraud to protect our national security.
Through personal interviews with asylum applicants, abstract human rights issues are given a name and a face. The stories I hear from applicants are compelling and memorable, and they open my eyes to pressing human rights concerns worldwide on a daily basis.
In certain cases, immigration judges decide asylum applications. In others, Asylum Officers decide who will be granted asylum, and, in doing so, provide the opportunity for safety for thousands of persecuted individuals.
As an advocate prior to joining the Asylum Division, I was tasked with persuading others to approve my client’s request for a benefit, but I had no control over the outcome. The futures of my clients were in someone else’s hands. Now I am in a position to ensure every applicant who comes before me receives a fair adjudication.
No other job has allowed me to have such an impact on people’s lives in such a tangible way.