Asylum Approvals Encourage Illegal Immigration

texas_detention2A recent study of the approval rates for asylum claims by unaccompanied minors found a wide divergence in rates of approvals. The study reported by the Associated Press on June 2  found a discrepancy in approval rates depending on jurisdiction with offices in San Francisco having an approval rate of 86 percent while the rate in Chicago was 15 percent.

This variation in approval rates points to the subjective nature of asylum claims. The article points out that the asylum officers who make the decisions are in part influenced by federal court rulings that have been more “liberal” in the 9th Circuit that covers San Francisco, but the major factor may be a program in California to fund lawyers for the young asylum applicants. Data show that approval rates for asylum applicants who have legal representation are much higher than for those without representation.

What the article does not discuss is the legal basis for the asylum approvals. The legal standard is that the person has suffered persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution if deported based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. It is unclear how these criteria would lead to an approved asylum claim for these youth from Central America, because the existence of a high level of violence – which is often cited as a reason for fleeing the region – is not a basis for granting asylum. These claims are not justified on the basis of the claimant’s race or religion, or nationality, or political opinion, and it is difficult to imagine what the catch-all of “particular social group” could be.

It should be noted that when a favorable asylum decision is made by an asylum officer that is the end of the process: asylum granted. But, if the ruling is unfavorable, that decision is subject to appeal to an immigration judge, and many of those appeals result in asylum being granted. So, instead of the overall approval rate of 37 percent for the cases in the study, the final rate of approvals will be higher. This rate of approval of gaining access to a ‘green card’ and permanent legal residence is enough to encourage the continuing flood of illegal entry by young Central Americans.  Besides, the administration’s record in deporting those Central American youth who have been ruled ineligible for asylum is so anemic that the risk of deportation is virtually negligible. 

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    This president is a terrorist! This government is shameful to allow him to be in office!

  2. avatar

    From the Washington Free Beacon:

    Obama Administration Hosts Cuban Border Guard Visits
    Trips to Coast Guard facilities raise security concerns-June 3, 2016 by Bill Gertz

    –“The Obama administration is hosting visits to U.S. Coast Guard facilities by Cuban Border Guard officials as part of its policy of seeking closer ties with the communist government in Havana.

    The visits are raising concerns among officials and security analysts that closer ties with Cuba will benefit aggressive Cuban intelligence operations in the United States that have been underway for decades.”

    –“Cuba—with historic, deeply held KGB connections—continues to command an enormous intelligence capacity and network to spy on America,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

    “Hosting Cuban government officials and delivering them to ‘tour’ American national security facilities—as well as critical infrastructure sites in the United States—proves that this administration naively believes that Cuba has changed,” Pompeo said. “It has not. And its espionage against the United States continues.””

    –“An FBI report two years ago warned that Cuban intelligence agents are targeting American academics for recruitment as spies.

    “The Cuban intelligence services (CuIS) are known to actively target the U.S. academic world for the purposes of recruiting agents, in order to both obtain useful information and conduct influence activities,” the Sept. 2, 2014 report says.

    –“Cuba also has close ties to North Korea, as disclosed by the seizure in July 2013 of a North Korean ship found to be illegally carrying Cuban military jets and missile guidance components. North Korea was hit with Treasury Department sanctions but Cuba was not sanctioned as part of the Obama administration’s policy of seeking closer ties.”

  3. avatar

    Hillary says Trump “doesn’t understand the world”. And she does? She says over and over that Islam is “a religion of peace”. Considering how much time she spent as Secretary of State trying to put out fires [unsuccessfully] all over the Muslim world, she’s living in a fantasy world. They can’t get along with themselves, much less other cultures and religions. And in many Islamic countries, majorities, sometimes substantial, say death should be the result of leaving Islam. Yeah, that sounds “peaceful” to me. In this country, nobody cares if you go to another church. In Islam, you deserve death.

    • avatar

      Muslims have fighting among themselves and with the Western world a lot longer than we have existed as a nation. And our government thinks if we bring them into our country and use our military to forcibly introduce Western style democracy in their countries they are going to change? Dream on.

      If current trends continue they will still be fighting each other after we have become just another bankrupt, formerly overextended empire that has been relegated to the ash heap of history.

      • avatar

        Have you seen the excuses and justifications for the attacks on Trump supporters in San Jose, California? The mayor insists that Trump bears the responsibility because of his “rhetoric”, never mind the fact that protestors flying Mexican flags attack US citizens at a political rally.

        The police chief Eddie Garcia actually made the statement: “We are not an occupying force and cannot reflect the chaotic tactics of the protestors.” ???? In other words just because protestors are assaulting other people, the cops will be just like them if they try and stop the assaults? A ten year old can see the difference. He also said they were not going to react unless it was “spiraling out of control”. So it’s ok if Trump supporters take a little bit of a beating?

        Remember those 43 college students who were murdered a couple years ago in Mexico? They were involved in protests against the government and surviving students said that they were on their way to Mexico City to demonstrate. There are numerous allegations that federal troops were involved in their murder. An international group that had been invited to come to the country to investigate left a few weeks ago because they said the government was stonewalling them. Time for Mexico to clean up their own mess and stop lecturing us. Is this lawlessness what we want here?