Asylum Denials Surge in Florida and the US

Recent data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that asylum acceptance rates have hit a 20-year low. For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, immigration judges have issues asylum denials for 65 percent of the claims. In 2017, 42 percent of asylum claims were denied.

Florida asylum denials have reached an 18-year high with 86 percent of applicants in Miami being turned down. Orlando judges have rejected 85 percent. According to TRAC, those denial rates are the highest since 2001.

The asylum process is not fast. Those who seek asylum must enter the US and apply in person. Foreign nationals who seek protection from persecution in their home countries may remain in the US while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed their applications. The process can take 3 to 5 years due to the current backlog. Those applicants who receive their decisions this year most likely arrived and applied for asylum before the current administration took office.

Changes in Immigration Rules Leading to More Asylum Denials

The current administration’s changes to immigration rules allow immigration judges the right to issue asylum denials to individuals claiming domestic or gang violence as a reason for fleeing their countries. Prior to this administration, immigration judges could use administrative closure, a form of discretionary relief that offers temporary protection against deportation to those individuals who did not receive asylum. Administrative closure ended this year.

It also seems as though specific groups are being targeted more frequently for asylum denials than other groups. For example, in Miami, more Venezuelans are receiving asylum, partly due to their arrival at the Miami airport with business and tourist visas. Unlike Central Americans who must cross the Rio Grande, the Venezuelans typically have money and legal representation. They also tend to have allies in the Miami community’s Cuban American lawmakers.

In places such as El Paso, Texas, immigration paints a different story. Mexicans do not fare as well in immigration courts. Only 14.5 percent of asylum seekers from Mexico received asylum in 2018.

In 2018, Central American asylum seekers from El Salvador received a 23 percent approval rate. For Hondurans, it was 20 percent while those from Guatemala had the lowers asylum rate of 18 percent. Part of the reason behind these asylum rates is that Hondurans typically claim gang violence and Guatemalans report domestic violence. Both reasons for seeking asylum are no longer considered approval-worthy due to the new laws. For Salvadorans who face direct violent threats, the asylum rate is higher.

Those who seek asylum only to have it denied risk being deported and returned to their countries where they face persecution and potential violence.

For further information on immigration, contact Coral Springs attorneys Brodzki Jacobs & Brook at (954) 344-7737.