Two-Thirds of Court Asylum Applicants Found Legally Entitled to Remain
(17 May 2024) The latest Immigrant Court records show that over the past decade (FY 2014 to April 2024) Immigration Judges have adjudicated just over one million removal cases in which the immigrant filed an asylum application. Out of these 1,047,134 cases, Judges determined that 685,956 immigrants were legally entitled to remain in the United States because they merited asylum or another form of relief from deportation. Another 332,552 immigrants were ordered removed, and an additional 28,626 immigrants were issued voluntary departure orders. Thus, in total, over the last decade just a third (34%) of immigrants in removal proceedings who filed asylum applications were ordered deported while two-thirds (66%) were allowed to remain in the country.

This period covers three presidential administrations including the earlier wave of asylum seekers who arrived during the Obama administration. Among those who filed asylum applications back then and had their cases adjudicated during FY 2014-FY 2016, 68 percent of these immigrants were found legally entitled to remain, and 29 percent were unsuccessful and ordered deported.

Under the Trump administration, the number of asylum seekers granted relief steadily increased. Until the pandemic hit and court dispositions in general dropped, the annual number of asylum seekers found legally entitled to stay averaged twice the level of those examined who were adjudicated during President Obama. The number of asylum seekers ordered removed, however, rose faster. Over Trump’s four-year term, an average of 57 percent filing asylum applications were ordered deported, while 43 percent were allowed to remain.

The Biden administration has further increased processing of asylum applications. Ever larger numbers have been granted asylum and other forms of relief. At the same time, increasing numbers have been ordered removed. As of April 2024, the average proportion allowed to remain in this country has risen to 77 percent, and those ordered removed has fallen to 22 percent.

The focus here was on those who filed asylum applications. This also means these were the more fortunate immigrants who were able to secure representation. Even through representation rates have been declining over recent years, among those who have filed asylum application almost everyone had an attorney. This simply underlines the fact that without an attorney few asylum seekers have been able to file asylum applications. As a result, untold thousands of immigrants seeking asylum have been ordered deported without ever having a court hearing on their asylum claims since they were unable to obtain legal representation. Thus, we simply do not know how many of these immigrants in fact had legally valid asylum claims but are ending up deported.

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