USCIS Records Reveal Systemic Disparities in Asylum Decisions

May 17, 2022
  • Description

Government records received by Human Rights First from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum office through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show years-long, systemic disparities in asylum adjudications based on the nationality of the asylum seeker and the asylum office handling the case.

The current administration must urgently act to address racial, nationality, and asylum office-based disparities in asylum adjudication. USCIS should ensure that cases qualifying for refugee protection are actually granted by the asylum office, rather than being referred for immigration court adjudications. The over-referral of cases exacerbates already years-long delays for many asylum seekers and needlessly contributes to court backlogs for cases that are overwhelmingly later granted by immigration judges. These reforms are particularly crucial given new asylum process rules, set to go into effect at the end of May 2022, under which more asylum seekers would undergo initial, full asylum adjudications by the asylum office.