Asylum cases are getting rejected more often than they used to

refugeesRead the first part of this post here.

The possibility of receiving a positive decision also varies significantly depending on where in the United States asylum seekers make their case. For example, from October 2015 through June 2018, CFRs (Credible Fear Review) led to a positive outcome 60 percent of the time in Arlington, Virginia, compared to only 2 percent of the time in Atlanta, Georgia.

Asylum seekers who reentered the United States after being deported are normally subjected to “reinstatement” of their earlier removal order if they return. At that point, they can request an interview with an asylum officer. In this case, the asylum seeker must demonstrate a “reasonable possibility” of qualifying for asylum—a higher standard than the credible fear interview. If the asylum seeker does not pass this interview, the decision can be appealed to an immigration judge for a “Reasonable Fear Review” (RFR).

The rate at which immigration judges are overturning asylum officers’ negative decisions is on the decline

13 percent in June 2018, which is half of where it was in June 2017 (29 percent). There was also a high degree of variability in outcomes depending on location. In Arlington, RFRs yielded positive outcomes 50 percent of the time from October 2015 through June 2018. In Atlanta, this only happened 5 percent of the time.

It is not a coincidence that immigration judges are taking a harsher approach than before when reviewing these credible and reasonable fear decisions. The administration does not hide its distaste for refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those coming from “developing” countries.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oversees the immigration courts, has put many obstacles in the way of immigrants and asylum-seekers. He overturned well-established case law to declare that most asylum claims based on gang violence or domestic abuse will not qualify for asylum. This decision clearly targeted the many Central American refugees who are fleeing often horrific levels of violence in their home countries. The administration has no safe haven to offer them, only rapid deportation back to the countries where their lives are in danger.