GAO Report Finds Variations in Application Outcomes Across Immigration Courts and Judges

GAO Report Finds Variations in Application Outcomes Across Immigration Courts and Judges

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published the results of a study involving almost 600,000 asylum applications between fiscal years 1995 and 2014 in order to determine differences in outcomes across immigration courts and judges over time. The data showed that there were indeed significant variations between the decisions of courts and judges, as well as the time periods during which the decisions occurred. For instance, between fiscal years 2008 and 2014, annual grant rates for affirmative asylum applications varied between 21 to 44 percent. During that same time period, grant rates for defensive asylum applications varied between 15 to 26 percent. Asylum grant rates also varied according to the immigration court that handled the application. For instance, from May 2007 through fiscal year 2014 in the New York immigration court, affirmative asylum grant rates were 66 percent and defensive asylum grant rates were 52 percent. During that same time period, the asylum grant rates were less than five percent in the Omaha, Nebraska and Atlanta, Georgia immigration courts. The huge variation in outcomes between these courts is certainly cause for concern, and lends legitimacy to the argument that immigration judges have a vast amount of discretion in determining whether to grant asylum applications or not. The study also found that various other factors impacted the outcomes of asylum applications. For example, when immigrants sought asylum with the help of legal counsel, their grant rates were 3.1 percent higher in the case of affirmative applications and 1.8 percent higher in the case of defensive applications. However, significant variations still existed across immigration courts and judges, whether the applicants had legal counsel or not. In fact, GAO estimated that the affirmative and defensive asylum grant rates would vary between 29 and 57 percent, depending upon the particular immigration court in which the application was considered. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we have represented the interests of countless clients who are facing deportation proceedings, but who wish to remain with their families in the United States. Fortunately, there are many remedies that may be available if you are facing deportation charges. We will aggressively investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, and help you settle upon the option that is best calculated to allow you and your family to live where you choose. Contact our experienced deportation defense attorneys today, and learn how we can help.
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