In the recent CBP/AILA liaison meeting (see part 1 of this series for definition of these terms), CBP confirmed that it will be transitioning from the Inspectors Field Manual to an Officer’s Reference Tool to provide guidance to officers adjudicating applications for admission.
While much of the Inspectors Field Manual is available to outside parties, the Officer’s Reference Tool (ORT) may not be made available. CBP noted that the ORT will be designated as “law enforcement sensitive” and thus will not be released to the public unless the CBP Chief Counsel allows certain portions to be published.
This action does not bode well for transparency in adjudication and hinders our ability to advise clients on admissions or advocate for clients based on adherence to agency guidance.
While we understand the need for law-enforcement-sensitive information to be secret, we question how much of the ORT requires such secrecy. We urge the Chief Counsel to release as much of the ORT as possible when it is adopted.