The odds of an asylum claim being denied in Immigration Court reached an
historic low in FY 2012, with only 44.5 percent being turned down. Ten
years ago, almost two out of three (62.6%) individuals seeking asylum
lost their cases in similar actions. Twenty years ago fewer than one
out of four (24.0%) asylum applicants won their cases, while three out
of four (76.0%) lost. See Figure 1.
These latest Immigration Court numbers are based on case-by-case
information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from
the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Overall, the data
indicate that a total of 11,939 individuals were awarded asylum last
year, the highest number receiving asylum in Immigration Court
proceedings since FY 2007.
While the odds of winning a case have been improving, the number of
asylum cases decided by Immigration Judges has fallen since 2003. In
that year 35,782 asylum cases were heard — a high water mark for case
decisions. By FY 2010, that number had fallen precipitously to just
19,445. Since then volumes have rebounded slightly: during FY 2012
there were 21,512 asylum cases decided. See Table, "Asylum Decisions in Immigration Courts."
Prosecutorial Discretion and Asylum
Asylum applicants also made up more than a quarter (29.4%) of all cases
closed under the prosecutorial discretion (PD) initiative during FY
2012. A total of 2,827 asylum applicants accepted administrative
closures under this program, as compared with a total of 9,616 PD
closures during the twelve-month period. These closures, of course, are
not included in the 11,939 individuals who won their asylum cases last
PD closures are not the only type of administrative closures.
Administrative closures for other reasons vary from year to year, but
have averaged around 2,400 during the previous five years. When PD
closures were added to administrative closures for other reasons, last
year a total of 4,869 individuals had their cases administratively
closed and were allowed at least for the time being to remain in this
Thus, another way of examining these figures is in terms of the odds of
being allowed to remain in this country. FY 2012 was a banner year in
these terms as well. When those that won their cases outright are
combined with administrative closures,
a total 63.7 percent of asylum applicants or 17,012 individuals were
allowed to remain in the U.S. in cases concluded last year.
TRAC's report series on asylum decisions has been updated through FY
2012. As in the past, whether an individual request for asylum is
approved or denied is still heavily dependent upon the judge who was
assigned to decide it.
An overview of judge asylum rates court-by-court, based upon each judge's report is listed in the Appendix to this report, "Judge-by-Judge Asylum Decisions in Immigration Courts."
To be included in this series, a judge must have made at least 100 asylum decisions during the reporting period.
The 2012 reports on each individual Immigration Judge, with year-by-year
denial rates and current comparative rankings, can be viewed at TRAC's judge-by-judge menu page.
For More Information Contact us at:
- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com