It took Doug Stephens two days to decide: He wasn’t going to implement President Donald Trump’s latest policy to restrict immigration, known as Remain in Mexico. The asylum officer wouldn’t interview any more immigrants, only to send them back across the border to face potential danger.
As a federal employee, refusing to abide by policy probably meant that he’d be fired. But as a trained attorney, Stephens told the Los Angeles Times, the five interviews he’d been assigned were five too many. They were illegal.
“They’re definitely immoral,” Stephens said he told his supervisor in San Francisco. “And I’m not doing them.”
A spokesman for the union that represents some 13,000 Citizenship and Immigration Services employees said Stephens is believed to be the first asylum officer to formally refuse to conduct interviews under the program officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols. But across the country — according to asylum officers, including Stephens, as well as government officials — asylum officers are calling in sick, requesting transfers, retiring earlier than planned and quitting — all to resist Trump administration immigration policies.