Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Asylum Seeker Numbers Increase Under Biden Administration

A year under the Biden administration’s adjustments to the asylum process, the number of people granted asylum in immigration courts hit a historic high. The number of people granted asylum rose from 8,495 in the fiscal year 2021 to 23,686 in the fiscal year 2022, according to an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, based at Syracuse University.

The TRAC report said the number in 2022 was the most significant number of individuals granted asylum in any year in the court’s history.

“[Biden] really had an impact on speeding up the asylum process,” said Susan Long, co-director of TRAC and an associate professor of managerial statistics at Syracuse.

However, the analysis also showed that grants of asylum have slowed, with 50% of cases granted asylum in June dropping to 41% in September. Since July, asylum grant rates have fallen 31% in closed cases.

Grant rates were 2 ½ times higher for people who could obtain lawyers, and about 18% of those without lawyers got asylum. Those released from detention had better asylum grant rates at 54%, compared to those detained, at 15%, who were granted asylum.

The administration created the dedicated docket to speed up the asylum request process from families who arrived on the southern border, with 110,000 cases being sent there. With sped-up dockets, people have less time to find an attorney or gather evidence or witnesses for their cases, Long said.

Victoria Neilson, supervising attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, said that former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump tried to speed up the process of asylum cases. However, it was difficult for the immigrants to get attorneys and refuge in all cases.

“I don’t think any of those administrations was speeding them up because they thought it would be more fair for the asylum-seeker. I think they thought they could get some sort of political points by saying they were essentially punishing the most recent border crossers,” she said.

With the impending lifting of Title 42, a Trump administration border restriction, the asylum process is getting reopened. The Biden administration plans to end Title 42 by December 21. The administration is also working on plans to reduce the number of people eligible for asylum at the border. The asylum process starts with interviews at the border to decide whether there is a “credible fear” in their country of origin to appeal court decisions.

The administration has also tried to deal with cases before they go to court by allowing asylum officers on the border to decide whether people who have shown credible fear of persecution and are in a sped-up process for removal from their country should be granted asylum bypassing a court process.

NBC News