Thursday, November 30, 2017
TRAC reports that recent Immigration Court records reveal that during FY 2017 asylum decisions were up sharply. A total of 30,179 cases were decided by judges last year, a marked increase from 22,312 cases in FY 2016. This is the largest number of asylum cases decided in any one year since FY 2005. While asylum grants increased, denials grew even faster. This pushed the percent who were denied asylum to 61.8 percent. This is the fifth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Five years ago the denial rate was just 44.5 percent.
The proportion of asylum seekers who are unable to obtain representation has risen markedly. Ten years ago during FY 2007, only 13.6 percent were unrepresented. Five years ago (FY 2012), 15.8 percent were unrepresented. In FY 2017 the unrepresented figure was 20.6 percent. However, the proportion was even higher during FY 2014 when asylum seekers without attorneys suddenly jumped to 23.2 percent. Since then the rate has slowly subsided. However, the proportion of asylum seekers who were unrepresented last year remained significantly higher than levels prior to the 2014 jump.
These figures reflect in part the inadequacy of the supply of attorneys to keep up with increases in demand which occurred over this period. Recent efforts to increase the availability of attorneys through ramped up pro bono efforts and government-funded programs have sought to increase this supply. However, given the court's backlog, it may take some time before these newly represented cases are decided and the full impact of these programs will be felt.