Study: Political asylum denial rates up from 2015

Honduran asylum seeker hopeful attorney will help win her case

SAN ANTONIO – After reviewing the findings of a national study, a local immigration attorney said he agrees that not having legal representation vastly increases the chances of deportation.

“I think an attorney can play a crucial role in these types of cases. Without an attorney, I think their chances of prevailing are small,” Lance Curtright said.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, based at Syracuse University in New York, found that 90 percent of those who didn’t have an attorney were denied asylum, while the denial rate for those with attorneys was 48 percent.

The study also reports that compared to last year, overall asylum denials by immigration judges are up by 57 percent.

“Asylum is one of the most difficult things in any area of law and certainly the most difficult thing in immigration law,” Curtright said.

Curtright said in order to win, immigrants must prove a reasonable fear of persecution based on their race, political opinions, religion, nationality or social group. However, asylum laws are more concerned about government persecution, not what is driving thousands of Central Americans to flee their homelands. 

“They didn’t foresee MS-13 recruiting kids to join gangs,” Curtright said.

He said that’s likely why the study showed the highest denial rates are for people from Mexico, up by 408 percent, followed by those from Honduras, with an increase of 166 percent.