Doug Stephens is a former Asylum Officer who resigned from USCIS in August 2019. He worked as an Asylum Officer in the San Francisco Aslyum ffice from September 2017 until August 31, 2019. Prior to his service in the asylum corps, he was a Deaprtment of Justice (DOJ) staff attorney for the San Francisco Immigration Court from September 2015 to September 2017. While at the Immigration Court, he reviewed 195 cases and drafted 96 judicial decisions. In his two years as an Asylum Officer, he conducted and adjudicated more than 350 Affirmative Asylum interviews, Credible Fear screenings, and Reasonable Fear screenings.
After conducting five interviews under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP or “Remain in Mexico” program), Stephens refused to conduct further interviews, believing that implementing MPP violates numerous laws and treaty obligations and poses significant threat of harm to asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico. After facing retaliation, he documented in writing the reasons for his concerns to his superiors in a seven-point memo and resigned in August 2019. Aware of the potential for further retaliation, Stephens sought aid from the Asylum Officers’ designated spokesperson and union president, Michael Knowles, and went to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to disclose his concerns that implementing MPP would violate the law and endanger migrants. His disclosures became an integral part of a report issued by Senator Merkley on November 14, 2019, “Shattered Refuge: A U.S. Senate Investigation into the Trump Administration’s Gutting of Asylum.” His disclosures have been reported extensively in the media including in This American Life, The Washington Post, and The LATimes. Stephens also submitted a statement in the record for a November 19, 2019 House Committee on Home Security’s Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Hearing, “Examining the Human Rights and legal Implications of DHS’ ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy.”