Findings of Credible Fear Plummet Amid Widely Disparate Outcomes by Location and Judge
(30 Jul 2018) Immigration Court outcomes in credible fear reviews (CFR) have recently undergone a dramatic change. Starting in January 2018, court findings of credible fear began to plummet. By June 2018, only 14.7 percent of the CFR court decisions found the asylum seeker had a "credible fear." This was just half the level that had prevailed during the last six months of 2017. These very recent data from the Immigration Court provide an early look at how the landscape for gaining asylum may be shifting under the current administration. Unless asylum seekers, including parents with children, arriving at the southwest border pass this initial CFR review, they are not even allowed to apply for asylum. As a consequence, individuals who don't pass these reviews face being quickly deported back to their home countries.

The latest available case-by-case court records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University document that depending upon the particular Immigration Court undertaking the credible fear review, the proportion of asylum seekers passing this screening step varied from as little as 1 percent all the way up to 60 percent - a sixty-fold difference. Since October 2015, for example, at least half passed their credible fear reviews when these were conducted by the Immigration Courts in Arlington, Virginia (60% passed), Chicago, Illinois (52% passed), Pearsall, Texas (51% passed), and Baltimore, Maryland (50% passed). In contrast, few were found to have credible fear when their review took place in Immigration Courts based in Lumpkin, Georgia (only 1% passed) and Atlanta, Georgia (only 2% passed).

Which judge is assigned to undertake this review can also have a dramatic impact. Judges on the Pearsall, Texas and San Antonio, Texas Immigration Courts found as few as 4 percent demonstrated credible fear, while others on the same two courts found 94 percent with such fear.

Previous reports by TRAC and others have long documented wide judge-to-judge disparities in asylum decisions. This report breaks new ground in showing that similar differences also exist earlier in the asylum process in the determination of who is allowed to apply for asylum.

To read the full report, including specifics for each Immigration Court, go to:

In addition, many of TRAC's free query tools - which track the court's overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more - have now been updated through June 2018. For an index to the full list of TRAC's immigration tools go to:

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