We think it is important to understand the big picture before we make strategy about individual cases. Thanks to the statistics released by the Department of Homeland Security, we can get an idea of who are entering the United States as Asylees in recent years. Then, with the data from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, we are also able to know which court is relatively asylee-friendly, namely, which court is more likely to grant foreigners asylum. We hope our clients could thus make better decisions about their filing for asylum.      
Recent years have witnessed a slight increase of asylum approvals by the immigration court, especially in affirmative cases. (Whether this continues remains to be seen.)

​As shown in Chart 1, the government’s grants of approval for asylees are 25,151(2013), 23,374 (2014) and 26,124 (2015). Compared to year 2013, though there is small drop in the number of asylees in 2014, the government still increases its approval by 4% in 2015. More importantly, despite the fluctuations of the overall number of approval, there is a consistent decrease of numbers of individuals getting their asylum defensively. This trend naturally brings more importance to the affirmative asylums.   

Then, we dig into these numbers to get an idea who are getting the asylum approvals these years. Chart 2 first gives us a broad picture of where these asylees come from. In 2013 and 2014, we can see that people from Asia and Africa account for the majority of those who are granted with asylums. In 2015, in addition to these two continents, there is a sharp increase of people from North America who get their asylee status. Chart 3 offers us more details about where these asylees come from. During the year of 2013 and 2014, the Asia proportion can be explained by the fact that more people from Syria (5%), Iran (4%) and China (27%) are granted with asylum. The Africa proportion mainly compose of people from Egypt (20%). In 2015, however, there is a huge increase of asylees coming from Honduras (6%), Guatemala (10%), and El Salvador (10%).

In addition, we are also able to identify the most asylum-friendly immigration court for the past 6 years. Based on Chart 3, these courts are in New York (23.1%), Los Angeles (11.2%), San Francisco (9.4%), Boston (4.6%) and Arlington (4.2%).

Chart 3: Asylum Grant Rate in Immigration Courts Year 2011-2016:

Thanks to the available data, we can tell the slight increase of asylum approvals granted by the court and the growing importance of affirmative cases. We are now also aware that more people from Central America are getting their asylums, probably from those asylum-friendly states that we are able to identify. We hope this information will be of some use to relevant lawyers and clients.

Huirong Jia
HMA Legal Intern

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