Exile sickness

Asylum officers aren’t professionals at anything. They believe themselves to be experts at rooting out lies. They’re not. They routinely ignore the advice of medical and legal professionals, replacing their own biased judgment. They’re incentivized not to save lives but to dig for inconsistencies, some of which are everyday human error, and to reject. The culture inside the US and UK asylum offices encourages caseworkers to turn people away — the officers brag about it to each other. I have seen official asylum reports on which the officer’s annotations include things like, “Loser!” These are not unbiased gatekeepers.

[…] torture survivors are routinely disbelieved, though their bodies bear horrific scars. The UK home office has made up an absurd catch-all excuse called Self-Inflicted Torture by Proxy, which was recently rejected in their supreme court. Refugees escape the hellish conditions of their own countries thinking that in Europe they will find human rights, compassion, and professionals at the gates who are curious, eager to save lives, armed with a reverence for the Geneva Convention and expertise in law, medicine, and global events. This is what we all wish was happening. But it’s not. The people guarding the gates have the equivalent of two-year degrees, they are tired, overworked, mediocre in their powers of logic, badly trained, and unwilling to learn. What makes them more dangerous: they think highly of their own judgment and they enjoy the little power they’ve been given.

Dina Nayeri interviewed at the LARB.

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