Fiscal year 2018 broke records for the number of decisions (42,224) by immigration judges granting or denying asylum. Denials grew faster than grants, pushing denial rates up as well. The 42,224 decisions represented a 40 percent jump from decisions during FY 2017, and an 89 percent increase over the number of asylum decisions of two years ago.
This increase largely reflects asylum applicants who had arrived well before President Trump assumed office. Given the backlog in the Immigration Court only one out of five asylum decisions involved cases that took 12 months or less to decide. The one exception was for those who were unable to find an attorney to assist them. For those without representation, over half (55.8%) had cases begun in the same year. For those who were represented, only about one in ten (12.9%) were in cases that had taken 12 months or less to decide.
In 65.0 percent of these decisions this past year asylum was denied. This is the sixth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Six years ago the denial rate was just 42.0 percent. See Figure 1. (For year-by- year figures, see Appendix Table 1 at the end of this report.)