Pangea & Partners Publish Letter to Rescind the USCIS 2014 Lesson Plan

Dear Friends, 

Today, Pangea Legal Services, Transgender Law Center, Central America Resource Center-San Francisco (CARECEN), and more than 60 other organizations published a letter calling on USCIS to rescind its recent “2014 Lesson Plan.”

What is the “2014 Lesson Plan”? The Lesson Plan is a training guide for asylum officers to screen for possible asylees and people who might be at risk of torture if deported. We are concerned that the lesson plan and the resulting training was intended to deny a greater number of cases and will increase the number of erroneous denials for many asylum seekers at the credible fear interview stage.

Sign our Petition to Protect Asylum Seekers: “USCIS Rescind the 2014 Lesson Plan”

Individuals who previously would have received positive determinations have, under the 2014 Lesson Plan and training, received negative determinations including some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers, such as LGBTQ survivors of persecution and survivors of domestic violence.

Recently, several of our community members presented credible pleas for protection, cases that would have been approved prior to the new Lesson Plan. Case in point: Yordy Cancino. Yordy is with us today because of the many petitions and phone calls made by his community on his behalf and the legal advocacy to appeal his erroneous initial determination that was based on the interpretation of the new Lesson Plan.

Please sign our Petition asking USCIS to rescind the 2014 Lesson Pan and retrain officers to apply an appropriate standard that upholds our values and laws.

Help us avoid this process for others like Yordy, and ask USCIS to rescind the Lesson Plan and retain its asylum officers. Thank you for your support.

Niloufar Khonsari
Pangea Legal Services

Yordy Cancino

P.S. — Yordy’s supporters are trying to raise $7,500 to get him out of detention. Please support them by making a donation of $25, $50, or $100.


Background: 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) released the 2014 Lesson Plan to Asylum Officers throughout the country. The Lesson Plan offers a guideline for Asylum Officers who screen for possible asylees and individuals who may be at risk of torture if deported.

Unfortunately, the 2014 Lesson Plan undermines the asylum process because a neutral—and natural—reading of the text suggests that Asylum Officers should apply a standard that is at odds with U.S. law and public policy. We find this troubling, and we are concerned that the Lesson Plan and its concomitant training will result in an increasing number of erroneous denials for asylum seekers.

Pangea Legal Services works to serve and stand with immigrants in many ways, including direct legal services, policy advocacy, and community empowerment / education.  To address our concerns with the 2014 Lesson Plan, we have worked with various non-profit organizations throughout the country to write a petition to Mr. John Lafferty, the Chief of the Asylum Division at USCIS, asking him to rescind his 2014 Lesson Plan. We urge Mr. Lafferty and USCIS to rescind the 2014 Lesson Plan so that asylum seekers have a fair chance of presenting their claims. The full text of our petition is below, and we encourage you to sign our petition electronically here.