Immigration Court Asylum Denials at Ebb Tide

With Immigration Court asylum denials reaching an all-time low – the lowest level in a quarter of a century according to FY 2010 results – data shows that immigration judges are declining fewer requests for asylum.

Recent Justice Department data show that immigration judges are declining substantially fewer requests for asylum. Denial rates have reached the lowest level in the last quarter of a century according to a new analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

Twenty-five years ago, in FY 1986, almost nine out of ten (89 percent) of the asylum requests in the Immigration Courts were denied. While the annual rates have gone up and down during the ensuing years, only half (50 percent) of the requests were denied during the first nine months of FY 2010 – a record low.

The denial rate for asylum requests in Immigration Court has been steadily declining since the mid-nineties and is projected to fall again in FY 2010. In FY 1986 almost nine out of ten requests (89 percent) were denied. Five years ago slightly more than six out of ten requests (62 percent) were denied. So far this year, it has dropped further so that only five out of every ten (50 percent) of asylum requests are being denied.

The growing success of asylum seekers is partly attributable to increases in the proportion that obtains legal representation. Having legal representation appears to have a major impact on outcome. During FY 2010, for example, only 11 percent of those without legal representation were granted asylum; with legal representation the success rate rose to 54 percent. It must be noted, though, that the number of those seeking asylum in court proceedings has fallen.

These and many other finding have emerged in the fifth annual report of TRAC’s monitoring series on Asylum Decision in the Immigration Courts. The reports are based upon hundreds of thousands of case-by-case asylum records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The records cover asylum decisions for the last quarter century, and are current through June 21 of this year.

The 2010 reports on each individual Immigration Judge, with year-by-year denial rates and current comparative rankings subject to the detailed listing.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit