NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 1, 2006

U.S. immigration judges decline asylum applications at vastly different rates across the country, despite the government's commitment to apply the law fairly and uniformly, according to a new study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The authors analyzed data from nearly 300,000 cases from 1994 to early 2005.  They found: 

  • The most stringent judge was Mahlon Hanson in Miami, who turned down 97 percent of the 1,118 asylum cases in his court.
  • Judge Margaret McManus in New York rejected only about 10 percent of the 1,638 asylum requests in her court.
  • The median rate of denial was 65 percent.

The authors also found that immigrants from certain countries fared better than others. For example:

  • Some 80 percent of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Mexico and Haiti were denied.
  • Only 30 percent from Afghanistan and Myanmar were rejected.

But while immigrant advocates agree that differences from one judge to another are troubling, discrepancies in rejection based on country of origin is to be expected.

Political persecution is not a major problem anymore in El Salvador, says Alexandra Wisotsky, an attorney with Human Rights First, so it makes sense that fewer asylum requests would be granted to people from that country compared with applicants from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Source: Eunice Moscoso, "Study: Asylum requests judged inconsistently," Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 31, 2006

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