Putting TRAC to Work
University Of Pennsylvania Press

Immigration Judges and U.S. Aslym Policy
By Banks Miller, Linda Camp Keith, and Jennifer S. Holmes

In this book we seek to enhance understandings of why immigration judges (IJs) do what they do. We perceive IJs as the linchpin of U.S. asylum policy, and we assert in these pages that understanding how IJs decide asylum cases is the best place to begin trying to grasp asylum policy in the United States. In addition, the IJs offer an interesting case study from the perspective of scholars of judicial behavior because they decide cases in highly ideological fashion even though they are analogous to trial judges, a situation that is not often depicted in the literature. We attempt to move beyond the asylum literature's focus on disparities in grant rates at the primary criticism of the U.S. Asylum process. Instead we focus on theoretical constructs--largely adapted from theories of judicial decision making--that allow us to better understand the conditional nature of IJ decision making. This approach leaves us with the overriding sens the eliminating disparities in IJ adjudication is akin to tilting at windmillls--the cause of variation are too deeply embedded and the contexts in which decisions are made are too varied and influential. Instead, we implicitly focus on the quality of IJ decisions-- a focus we make explicit in our final chapter, were we offer several concrete suggestions for improving the quality of decision making by IJs......[Citing TRAC research throughout book].

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