Article written by Chris Mansour, Legal Director
Recently released statistics show that although more people are being granted asylum nationally, a person is less likely to be granted asylum in Dallas. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which oversees immigration courts, just released its FY2012 Statistical Year Book. According to the statistics, 56% of people asking for asylum in immigration courts nationwide were granted asylum. Asylum-seekers are those people from other countries who have fled to the United States because they have been persecuted and often tortured because of their beliefs, or simply because of who they are. The number of people nationally who have been granted asylum has risen steadily over the past 7 years.
For people seeking asylum in Dallas Immigration Court during FY2012, only 36% of those claims were granted. Grant rates vary greatly throughout the country with Local and National Grant Rate Statistics by Year over 60% of cases being granted in places like New York City; Arlington, Virginia; Philadelphia and San Diego. Meanwhile, some immigration courts have grant rates much lower than Dallas, such as Atlanta, Minneapolis and Omaha, Nebraska. Studies and commentators have often criticized the wide fluctuation in grant rates as indicating that judges may have too much discretion or are inconsistently applying the law.
Syracuse University also tracks asylum grant rates, and has published the grant rates for three of the five immigration judges in Dallas. Judges must have made at least 100 decisions over the report period to be included. In Dallas, Judge Michael P. Baird has a grant rate of 33.6%. Asylum-seekers come from a wide array of countries, and for Judge Baird, the largest group before him came from Ethiopia and Zimbabwe (both were 8.2% of his asylum caseload). He also heard asylum claims from China (7.4%), El Salvador (7.4%), and Egypt (4.9%).
Another Dallas judge, Judge Deitrich Sims, granted 16.5% of the asylum cases he heard. From 2007-2012 he decided 121 asylum claims, granting 16. The largest percentage of his asylum cases comes from El Salvador (14%), while he also heard cases from Eritrea (7.4%), Cameroon (6.6%), Guatemala (6.6%) and Ethiopia (5.6%).
The last Dallas judge for which there is information is Judge Richard Ozmun, who granted asylum in 28% of the asylum cases he heard last year. His asylum cases came from El Salvador (8%), Guatemala (7.6%), China (6.6%), Zimbabwe (6.1%) and Cameroon (5.1%).
If you are interested in learning more about this issue, you can find the EOIR Statistical Yearbook here: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy12syb.pdf. You can view the reports issued by TRAC Immigration at Syracuse University here: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports/. If you would like to read more about the disparity in asylum grant rates nationwide, click here: http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/sites/default/files/articles/RefugeeRoulette.pdf