(UN)EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW: ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF GENDER SYNCHRONY AND MUSLIM RELIGION ON ASYLUM OUTCOMES IN THE UNITED STATES
Silberman, Alex William
By law, asylum claims in the United States are adjudicated on the basis of an applicant’s well-founded fear of persecution. Yet recent quantitative research on asylum decisions indicates that the probability of receiving asylum is highly correlated with demographic characteristics of both the adjudicating officer and the asylum applicant herself. This paper analyzes Department of Homeland Security asylum data between 2006 and 2009 to explore the relationship of gender, Muslim religion, and the probability of receiving asylum. Using linear regression, I find that shared gender identity between an asylum officer and an asylum applicant is related to the probability of receiving asylum. Male asylum applicants that are assigned male asylum officers are less likely to be granted asylum than the other gender matching scenarios (e.g. male applicant-female officer). Contrary to my hypothesis, the relationship between shared gender identity and asylum outcomes does not change based on whether an asylum applicant is Muslim. The findings of this research hold practical significance for policymakers to improve compliance with American refugee law and international humanitarian law. Based on this analysis, I recommend policy actions including enhanced training for asylum officers and increased administrative review of asylum determinations, while recognizing that the current political climate is not conducive to such reforms.
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