November 21, 2019

House Committee Holds Hearing on Humanitarian Concerns Resulting From Migration Crisis

Government Accountability Project Client Doug Stephens to Testify

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, Friday, November 22, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations will hold a field hearing titled “Humanitarian Aspects of the United States Migratory Crisis” in San Ysidro, CA. Government Accountability Project client Douglas Stephens will testify on the harms resulting from the policy officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces refugees from Central American countries to return to Mexico to await asylum proceedings. It has been widely reported that these migrants face serious dangers in Mexico including risk of kidnapping, rape, and other violence.

Stephens is a lawyer and former Asylum Officer who refused to conduct asylum interviews under MPP, and, after raising legal and humanitarian concerns about the Remain in Mexico interviews that went unaddressed, quit his post. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), to whom Stephens also reported his concerns about the program and his fears of reprisal, referenced Stephens’ disclosures in his office’s November 2019 report, “Shattered Refuge: A U.S. Senate Investigation into the Trump Administration Gutting of Asylum.” Stephens’ disclosures were also reported  in The Washington Post, CNN, The Los Angeles Times,, and The New York Times

Stephens’ testimony focuses on the Remain in Mexico program, which is currently being challenged in court on the grounds that it is both illegal and endangers asylum seekers. Among specific references explaining how MPP violates various international and domestic laws, Stephens highlights the higher legal standards applied in interviews that make it nearly impossible for officers to protect refugees from what he and other officers know to be real harm, stating that “the policy makes Asylum Officers complicit in the future harm of asylum seekers.” 

Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel and attorney for Stephens, Dana Gold, said: 

“Mr. Stephens raised concerns about the illegal and dangerous Remain in Mexico program to his supervisors, his colleagues, Senator Merkley, and finally the press to expose the abuses wrought by this policy. Congress must act immediately to stop the deliberate dismantlement of our asylum laws and the knowing endangerment of migrants seeking asylum in the US.”

Contact: Dana Gold, Senior Counsel and Director of Education
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x160

Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.