From the outside, Atlanta’s immigration courts are no different than the immigration courts in every other state. The same work goes on in the same settings, with the same legal terminology, the same sounds, and of course the same rules. But inside Atlanta’s immigration courts, something is very different.
In most of the United States, asylum applicants have a roughly 50 percent chance of winning their cases. In Atlanta, for the past decade it’s been under 10 percent. In 2017, the last year for which full federal statistics have been released, Atlanta’s immigration courts granted 2 percent of the asylum applications put before them – just 22 of 972. Similarly sized courts in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago each granted 27 percent or more of their asylum applications. Something has to change.
Tahirih’s Atlanta office is excited to announce our relaunched and reinvigorated Appellate Project. The Appellate Project is working to address the underlying bias, unfair practices, and misapplications of law that make the Atlanta immigration courts a national outlier. Alongside our dedicated pro bono and community partners, we work to identify cases that can make a change – cases that, when heard at appeal, can not only undo injustice for our clients, but can set precedents to increase access to justice for more survivors.
The Appellate Project has already won multiple victories at the Board of Immigration Appeals and in the federal courts, but there’s still plenty of work to do. We are ready to take on additional appeals immediately. Survivors of gender-based violence who have received a negative decision from an Atlanta immigration court can work with our talented attorneys and pro bono partners free of charge.
We founded our office in Atlanta five years ago because we wanted to make justice more accessible for immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in Georgia, including asylum seekers. Fighting for fairer outcomes in Atlanta’s immigration courts is a critical part of that mission.
The numbers will not change overnight. But we can work to make a difference— by making asylum in Atlanta more attainable, one case at a time.
If you’re a pro bono attorney in Atlanta who would like to get involved in this project or need to make a referral, please contact Managing Attorney Collin Mickle at (470) 481-4700 or [email protected].