Immigration courts denied an astounding 65% of asylum applications in 2018, according to a recent report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This denial rate is the highest since 2001.
Asylum Caseload has Skyrocketed in 2018.
TRAC reported 42,224 asylum cases that were decided by immigration judges in the fiscal year 2018. This is the highest number of cases since TRAC began tracking the data in 2001 and reflects an 89% increase from 2016. Furthermore, immigration courts are more backlogged than ever before – as of September 30, there were more than 1 million pending cases on judges’ dockets.
To some critics, such backlog can put justice and due process at risk. They worry that judges were denying claims not because they were invalid, but because applicants didn’t have enough time to gather evidence and seek competent representation.
Asylum is a Humanitarian Institution and the Trump Administration is Undermining it.
Asylum is a specific immigration process for people fleeing persecution from their home country. Applicants must establish they face ‘credible fear’ in their country of origin. Most asylum seekers may remain in the U.S. while a judge determines the validity of their claim.
Newly-resigned Attorney General Jeff Sessions changed immigration language in early 2018 to severely restrict asylum seekers’ ability to establish persecution based on domestic and gang-related violence. These two forms of persecution disproportionately impact migrants from Central America who are also the principal targets of Trump’s immigration crackdown.
During the recent migrant caravan crisis, President Trump went as far as to sign an executive order barring asylum application from anyone who crossed the border illegally. A federal judge later blocked the decree as overstepping executive authority.
Immigration Courts are Feeling the Pressure.
In this hostile political climate, immigration judges are compelled to view asylum seekers skeptically. Thus, judge selection plays a major role in asylum decisions. For example, in the immigration court in San Francisco, asylum denial rates could range wildly from 10% to 97%. And it all came down to the immigration judge, who has more discretion than in other areas of law. One policy analyst likens the situation to a ‘refugee roulette.’
If you, or someone you know, are frustrated by the challenging immigration process, don’t give up! There might be other avenues that would allow you or your family to remain in the U.S. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with one of our legal experts and explore your options for a secure future!