This review concerns U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS') handling of asylum claims filed by minors designated as unaccompanied alien children (UACs). The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 significantly changed the asylum process for UACs. Most notably, it shifted initial consideration of asylum claims filed in removal proceedings from the Executive Office for Immigration Review to the USCIS Asylum Division. It further required promulgation of regulations on UAC asylum claims. The Ombudsman’s Office examines current problems involving a policy of redetermining UAC status, difficulty rescheduling UAC interviews, inadequate methods and approaches to adjudication, and a general misunderstanding of the roles and responsibilities of certain adults associated with UACs.
On September 20, 2012, The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman’s Office) made the following five recommendations to USCIS:
- Accept jurisdiction of UAC cases referred by the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
- Accept jurisdiction of cases filed by children in federal custody under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Follow established UAC-specific procedures, expand implementation of certain best practices, and enlist clinical experts for quality assurance and training.
- Limit Headquarters review to a process that can be managed within 30 days.
- Issue as soon as possible regulations regarding the UAC asylum process.
Read the USCIS Response issued on April 11, 2013.