New York Judges to Start Hearing Child-Immigrant Cases

Marisa Schultz, New York Post, August 13, 2014

Thousands of kids who crossed illegally into the United States will hit the jackpot Wednesday, when their expedited cases begin coming before New York City immigration judges–who are the most lenient in the country.

The first judge assigned to the so-called “surge docket” is Frank Loprest, an Obama administration pick who grants asylum in 88 percent of the cases before him. The national average is about 50 percent.

Only five other judges in the nation have a more generous asylum record and they are all Loprest’s New York City colleagues, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University.

In all, the immigration court in the city has granted nearly 80 percent of asylum seekers’ requests since 2009, compared to 40 percent in Los Angeles and 30 percent in Houston.

“They are very empathetic,” Noemi Masliah, a New York immigration attorney, said of the city’s judges. “They listen carefully to the evidence. It’s as if they feel like they are saving a life when they grant cases.”


The court will be on the front lines of the migrant children crisis, with more than 63,000 children flooding across the Rio Grande since October. {snip}

“New York tends to be one of the destinations for most of these kids,” said Jojo Annobil, attorney in charge of the Immigration Law Unit at the Legal Aid Society, in explaining the surge docket in city.

Loprest will handle the surge docket at least for the first week, and other city judges may rotate later.

“A judge who has a good asylum grant rate is going to be much more amenable to these kids,” said Jason Abrams, another city immigration lawyer.

Experts say the reasons for the high rate of successful asylum applications in the city may be that there are more immigrants from asylum-favored countries, such as China, and better access to legal aid.

Almost all asylum seekers–89 percent–are denied when they don’t have a lawyer.


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