Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication and Proposals for Reform (October 2010)


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Philip G. Schrag & Jaya Ramji-Nogales Commentary by Sean Rehaag
October 14, 2010 (12:30pm – 2:20pm)
Location: 626 York Research Tower Refreshments will be served

Immigration law practitioners in the United States have long suspected that the likelihood of winning asylum depends in large measure on which asylum officer or immigration judge is assigned to adjudicate a case. Drawing on enormous databases of case and court information, Philip G. Schrag and Jaya Ramji-Nogales will:

  • Examine the degrees of disparity among asylum officers;
  • Reveal the extent to which immigration judges differ in similar asylum cases, and the correlations between those differences and the genders and prior work experiences of the judges;
  • Demonstrate the effects of Attorney General Ashcroft’s “streamlining reforms” on the adjudication of asylum appeals at the Board of Immigration Appeals; and
  • Show the differences among and within U.S. Courts of Appeals when they review asylum decisions of the Board.

Following the presentation, Sean Rehaag will present comparative data on the Canadian refugee determination system, focusing on the large differences between the US and Canadian refugee determination systems in the effects of adjudicator gender on refugee claim outcomes.

Philip G. Schrag Delaney Family Professor of Public Interest Law at Georgetown University and the Director of the Center for Applied Legal Studies, Georgetown’s clinic in which law students represent asylum-seekers in federal immigration court.

Jaya Ramji-Nogales Associate Professor of Law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where she teaches Refugee Law and Policy.

Sean Rehaag Assistant Professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School and a resident faculty member at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies.

For more information, please contact Professor Sean Rehaag at

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