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FOIA Result: Assigning Bad Officers Higher Volume of Children Asylum Cases.

Today, our office received a FOIA result on the asylum grant and referral rate of all officers at the NY asylum office for juvenile cases applying under the provisions of the TVPRA from FY 2013-FY2016.

The original data is here. Our additional analysis, with grant rate per officer, is here.

The overall grant rate for the time period of FY 2013-16 was 31.9%. However, the year by year data is markedly different.

For example. in FY 2015, NY asylum officers granted a total of 491 cases and denied (referred) 947 cases, which comes to a 34.1% grant rate. InFY 2016, however, the grant rate dropped to 26.9% overall ( 213 grants, 580 denials).

Most tellingly, the chances that a child is approved for asylum appears to depend just as much more more so on which asylum officer is assigned their case than anything to do with the strength of their claim.

Moreover, I detected a distinct pattern: asylum officers with lower grant rates were assigned significantly more children asylum claims than asylum officers with higher grant rates..

This pattern can be seen when one analyzes the officers sorted from highest number of decisions to lowest number of decisions and then breaks the top 30 officers into 5 block units.

For example, the top 5 asylum officers had a combined grant rate of 27.4% and accounted for a 19.4% of total children’s decisions in the same time period.


Officers with the most cases from six to ten; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20; 21-25; and 26-30, respectively, we see that the top15 asylum officers on volume of cases decided all had below the overall average grant rate of 31.9%. 

In fact, it is not until one reached the officers from 16-20 that the grant rate rises above the average, to 37.9%, and then from 21-25 all the way up to a peak of 41.2%

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Did the New York Asylum Office intentionally assign children’s cases to certain officers to ensure a low overall grant rate? It’s possible.

Even if not intentional, these results reveal that  the leaders of the New York Asylum office are aware that the decisions of its asylum officers on whether to grant children asylum is  arbitrary and capricious. (i.e. a few officers grant rates were below 10% while at least one rose to that of 75%.

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