Muted Voices: Toward an Understanding of the U.S. Asylum Program at the Southwest Border

The often-dismissed people who live, work, and pass through the Mexico-U.S. border can offer new insight into the U.S. asylum program crisis. In this video based on her CHDS Master’s thesis, “Muted Voices: Toward an Understanding of the U.S. Asylum Program at the Southwest Border,” Jaime Lier Chen discusses a concept called muted voices that can help identify, access, and hear the subjective stories of displaced people, border patrol agents, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers. These individuals go through a similar journey of trauma and stress in their interactions with U.S. bureaucratic systems–systems made even more cumbersome by executive orders and procedural changes from a presidential administration hell-bent on restricting the U.S. asylum program.

About the Presenter

Jaime Lier Chen serves as the District Training Specialist for USCIS District 31 in San Antonio, Texas. She was previously an Immigration Services Officer II for the USCIS Field Office in Newark, New Jersey. Lier started her government career in 2017 as an Asylum Officer at the Newark Asylum Office, in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. 

Prior to joining USCIS, Lier worked at HIAS, a global refugee resettlement agency, where she managed a resettlement network of over 20 affiliates. She was also involved with monitoring and evaluating HIAS programs, including HIAS-operated overseas protection programs that provide legal, psychosocial and livelihoods assistance to Colombian refugees in Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela. 

Lier has a Masters in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. In December 2021, she obtained a second MA degree from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). She spent a semester at Stendhal University, in Grenoble, France, worked for Global Communities (formally CHF international) in India, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Khentii, Mongolia. 

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