by Kaylee Greenlee
A higher percentage of migrants were granted asylum under the Biden administration despite fewer applications filed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new TRAC report released on Wednesday.
Asylum grants increased from 29% under former President Donald Trump to 37% during the Biden administration, according to data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Nearly 24,000 asylum decisions were made during the fiscal year 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns were in effect compared to 60,000 in the fiscal year 2020.
“Our new detailed report about asylum cases for this year shows a mixed bag. On the one hand, the success rate for asylum-seekers in immigration court has gone up since Joe Biden became president,” TRAC Assistant Professor Dr. Austin Kocher told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“On the other hand, the immigration courts have not decided nearly as many cases as they did last year, which means in terms of total numbers, fewer total migrants have received asylum under the Biden administration this year compared to the Trump administration last year,” Kocher added.
Asylum seekers with affirmative cases who were represented consistently have much lower denial rates. Unrepresented affirmative cases usually have the same or even lower denial rates than asylum seekers in defensive cases who have representation!https://t.co/6WyLblF5ap pic.twitter.com/dIOlf7wl9Z
— Austin Kocher, PhD (@ackocher) November 10, 2021
Around 8,350 immigrants were granted asylum in the fiscal year 2021 and another 400 were allowed a type of relief other than asylum, according to TRAC. About twice as many individuals received asylum in the fiscal year 2020.
Several immigration courts were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in asylum denials could have been a result of which judges were still hearing cases, according to TRAC. The number of cases heard fell after a government shutdown in March 2020 and has remained at around 2,000 a month since April 2020.
Most asylum requests are filed after Department of Homeland Security officials have placed migrants in removal proceedings, according to TRAC. Immigrants who applied for asylum before traveling to the U.S. have historically been more successful at getting asylum than those who tried after they were put in removal proceedings.
Migrants who had access to legal representation also had a higher chance of being granted asylum or another form of relief than those who didn’t have lawyers, according to TRAC. Around 89% of migrants had legal representation during the fiscal year 2021, whereas some 80% had representation in the fiscal year 2020 which could have been attributed to increased approval rates.
The Department of Justice ended annual case quotas for immigration judges implemented during the Trump administration, CNN Politics reported. The policy resulted in judges prioritizing moving through cases rather than pursuing due process.
TRAC obtained the data from thousands of immigration court records from the Executive Office for Immigration Review through Freedom of Information Act requests.
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Kaylee Greenlee is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.