DOJ Gets Two ‘Pinocchios’ for Immigration Paper

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The Washington Post fact checker gives two “Pinocchios” to a new “myths vs. facts” document from the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) that attempts to debunk 18 claims about immigration. Officials dispute common claims with cherry-picked data or questionable information. DOJ calls it a myth that there is wide discrepancy in asylum grant rates across all immigration courts. The Post says that 80 percent of immigration courts have a grant rate of  21 percent or lower. In a detailed analysis of immigration judges who decided more than 100 asylum cases from fiscal 2012 through 2017, the nonpartisan TRAC research center found that out of the 35 immigration judges in New York, the one with the lowest denial rate (3 percent) and the highest (58.5 percent) were still far apart from their peers in Los Angeles. In that city, the 34 immigration judges ranged from a denial rate of 29 percent to 97.5 percent.

Another supposed myth is that few aliens fail to attend their immigration court proceedings. In fact, 44 percent of cases with an “in absentia” order of removal due to an alien’s failure to attend a scheduled immigration court hearing. DOJ says it is myth that most aliens with legal representation are granted asylum in immigration proceedings. The asylum grant rate for cases with representation is about 21 percent. Still, “Having a lawyer makes a huge difference across the immigration court system,” says Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council. The TRAC research center says that overwhelmingly, those with legal representation have a higher success rate. Taken individually, each of the four claims analyzed by the Post “relies on a dubious read of the data or tells only part of the story, which tips the scale toward Two Pinocchios.”

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