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Credible fear claim rejections on the rise

One thing that has a very big impact on asylum seekers who are facing expedited removal is what happens in their credible fear review. Generally, in order to pursue an asylum claim, individuals facing expedited removal have to be found to have a credible fear of facing persecution if they were to return to their home country.

The initial review of whether a person meets the credible fear standard is done by an asylum officer. If the officer rejects a person's credible fear claim, the finding can be appealed to an immigration judge. What a judge decides in such a review generally cannot be further appealed.

The ultimate decision that comes out of this review process is very impactful. If a person facing expedited removal is not found to meet the credible fear standard, he or she cannot go any further with his or her pursuit of asylum in the United States. For many, this could mean a quick deportation.

A recent study indicates that, this year, it has become increasingly common for U.S. immigration courts to reject credible fear claims. According to the study, in every month of 2017, the approval rate by immigration courts of claims in credible fear reviews was 20 percent or higher. In comparison, in the first sixth months of 2018, only one month (January), saw a rate at or above 20 percent. The rate in June 2018 was only 14.7 percent.

One wonders if this drop will just be a blip or an ongoing trend.

The study also indicates that there is a great deal of variation in rates of credible fear claim approval among different U.S. immigration courts. Such variation can be seen among California's immigration courts. Here are the claim approval rates for the Oct. 2015 to June 2018 period for the California courts:

  • San Francisco - 39.2 percent
  • Adelanto - 22.1 percent
  • Los Angeles - 19.8 percent
  • Imperial - 15.3 percent
  • San Diego - 10.5 percent
  • Otay Mesa - 9.7 percent

One wonders what is contributing to these big differences among California immigration courts.

There are many processes (such as the credible fear review) that can have significant ramifications for asylum seekers. It can very be important for asylum seekers to understand their rights throughout their journey through these processes. Individuals can go to skilled immigration lawyers for explanations of their rights and what can be done to protect these rights.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber