Asylum Denials at a 25-Year Low, But Still Distributed Unevenly
Immigration judges are denying fewer requests for asylum than at any other time in the past 25 years, according to a report out today from Syracuse’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. During the first nine months of fiscal year 2010, judges turned down about half of the requests for asylum they received from illegal immigrants facing deportation. Asylum denials have been generally on the decline since 1986, when judges denied 89 percent of requests for asylum.
One reason for the shift may be an increase in the proportion of asylum-seekers with legal representation, which makes them success more likely, according to the report. But there are also better odds between illegal immigrants assigned to certain judges over others. Discrepancies have always been a part of the system, prompting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to order a review of the asylum system in 2006. TRAC determined immigrants in some courtrooms still have a better chance of asylum than others, although discrepancies appear to be on the decline.
Asylum is a somewhat thorny subject because it allows judges to halt deportation for some individuals. Zeituni Onyango, Obama’s aunt, was granted asylum in May after she argued she would be in danger in hr native Kenya. The Kenyan government said she was lying about her need for asylum, and many conservatives agreed. Immigrants rights groups argue asylum is an important resource for protecting the lives of immigrants who may be in danger in their home country.