Immigration Judges Overturn Asylum Officer's Negative Credible Fear Findings in a Quarter of All Cases
(14 Mar 2023) Over 100,000 credible fear cases have been heard by Immigration Judges (IJs). These cases determine whether the migrant has a credible fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home country. Unless the migrant passes this screening, the individual generally will be immediately deported. If they receive a favorable decision, then and only then will they have an opportunity to have their asylum claims formally heard.

The public can examine 25 years of these credible fear Court decisions by visiting TRAC's new Outcomes of Immigration Court Proceedings tool online. This free tool allows the public to not only examine deportation cases, but also the outcomes for many of the special types of cases the Court decides.

On average slightly over 25 percent of IJ decisions over the last 25 years have found that migrants had established having a credible fear of persecution or torture after an asylum officer initially denied the claim. In general, there has been a rising proportion of asylum officer decisions overturned by IJs. During the most recent 12-month period available, USCIS reports asylum officers denied migrants' claims to credible fear 32 percent of the time. When results from IJ reviews of denials during the same period are factored in, the 32 percent turn-down rate is reduced to just 23 percent. Thus, recent asylum seekers have been found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home country most of the time.

The rate asylum officer decisions are overturned by IJs varies by nationality. Armenians, although relatively small in number, had the highest overturn rate of 70 percent during the Biden presidency. This was followed by individuals from Cameroon (68%), and Syria (65%). Nationalities with the lowest overturn rates were migrants from Brazil (16%), Costa Rica (16%), and the Dominican Republic (19%).

For further details by nationality, as well as by presidential administration, read the full report at:

To examine a variety of Immigration Court data, including on asylum, the backlog, new filings, and more now updated through February 2023, use TRAC's Immigration Court tools here:

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