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DHS Explores AI Training for Refugee Status Officers

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is experimenting with artificial intelligence to train officers responsible for reviewing refugee status applications in the United States, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas informed reporters on Tuesday.

This initiative aims to address the “labor-intensive” nature of training, traditionally conducted by senior personnel. In this pilot, DHS is instructing machines to simulate refugees, allowing officers to practice interview techniques.

“Refugee applicants often find it challenging to express the trauma they’ve experienced,” Mayorkas explained. “Therefore, we’re teaching the machine to mirror this reticence and embody other characteristics of applicants.”

These comments, made during the RSA Conference in San Francisco, provide further insight into AI projects previously announced by DHS earlier this year. The department intended to develop an interactive app utilizing generative AI to enhance the training of immigration officers by generating new content based on past data.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency under DHS, would develop an AI program to customize training materials for officers, enhancing their decision-making accuracy.

DHS clarified that AI will not make immigration decisions independently. Instead, it will equip officers with country-specific knowledge and other relevant information to aid their decision-making process, as outlined by Mayorkas.

Furthermore, Mayorkas highlighted more advanced applications of AI, including identifying anomalies during border crossings by commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. This endeavor aims to enhance the department’s ability to detect smuggling attempts, particularly for illicit substances like fentanyl, and other contraband entering the United States.

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