Immigration Judges in Cleveland Deny Almost All Asylum Cases

  • The backlog of deportation cases in Ohio doubled to 7,727 since the start of the Trump administration. (See data here.)
  • Across Ohio, Franklin County (Columbus) has more immigrants currently facing deportation than any other county in the state with 4,531 pending cases. Hamilton County (Cincinnati) has 3,624 pending cases, and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) has 1,110 pending cases.
  • About one-third (33%) of people in Ohio with new deportation cases filed in the past 90 days have an attorney. (See data here.)
  • Immigration judges have denied 90% of all asylum applications so far in FY 2021, and approved just 10%. This is significantly higher than the national average. By comparison, 67% of all asylum cases nationally have been denied and 33% have been approved. (See data here.)
  • The asylum denial rate at the Cleveland immigration court has exceeded the national average for years. The denial rate increased steadily from 72% in FY 2015 and has hovered around 90% for the past three years.
  • Immigration judges at the nearby Detroit immigration court denied far fewer asylum cases (60%) and approved more (40%) compared to Cleveland.
  • The high rates of denial are somewhat surprising since 92% of asylum applicants were represented by the time a judge issued a decision in the case. (See data here.)



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Austin Kocher, PhD

I study America’s immigration enforcement system. Assistant Professor at TRAC. Graduate of OSU Geography. Online at