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Salt Lake City Weekly
June 6, 2018

Tangled Web
By Kelan Lyons

Jonathan Bachison, an Ogden-based attorney, says the thousands of people fleeing Central American countries are doing so "because of rampant gang violence that is just out of control." The trouble is, he says, "the only form of relief they can apply for is asylum. But most of their cases are losers from the get-go. It doesn't mean they're a loser, but their case will never get approved because they can't show they've been discriminated against for one of these very well-defined grounds," meaning they're unable to show their persecution stems from "things that are fundamental to the individual that the individual cannot change." Bachison suggests the high burden is necessary because if it were lower, "the United States would have to take in [citizens from] every country in the world because all the Third World countries have social unrest." If laws allowed for general civil unrest to be grounds for the granting of asylum, Bachison says, "everybody could just come and say, 'I'm the victim of a crime, let me in, I should get asylum.' That's essentially what they're all trying to do, but the thing is these cases are not unsympathetic ... I've had a lot of people who've had family members who were just killed." That high legal burden means the majority of asylum applications are denied. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan database maintained at Syracuse University, David C. Anderson, the only Salt Lake City immigration court judge for whom data is available, denied 75 percent of the 212 asylum cases he heard between the 2012 and 2017 fiscal years. In that time frame, judges at the Salt Lake City court denied asylum applications more than 80 percent of the time. Nationwide, judges denied 52.8 percent of asylum applications over the same period.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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