As Central Americans from a migrant caravan made famous by President Trump’s angry tweets begin entering the asylum process from the U.S. border, they face a complex legal battle that most who have tried in recent years from their countries have lost.
Just under 80% of the 15,667 asylum cases from El Salvador were denied from fiscal years 2012 to 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a project with Syracuse University that monitors immigration data through public records requests. About 78% of the 11,020 Honduran cases and about 75% of the 10,983 Guatemalan cases were denied.
Those trends could change as case law established in the last couple of years has helped more Central Americans show how their stories line up with requirements for asylum.
“There’s a steeper hill to climb, I think, in the Central American cases,” said Dana Leigh Marks, a spokeswoman with the National Assn. of Immigration Judges. “They involve cutting-edge legal arguments. The case law is still evolving. Whether it’s a liberal or a conservative trend, the reality is law is based on case precedent. The more precedent that builds and makes that principle clearer, the more established it’s going to be and the more consistent it’s going to be.”