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Statutes of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Norwegians, yearning to breathe free

This sponsored column is by Law Office of James Montana PLLC. All questions about it should be directed to James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq., and Janice Chen, Esq., practicing attorneys at The Law Office of James Montana PLLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Falls Church, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact us for an appointment.

Norway is a lovely country. Just ask former President Trump, who famously contrasted Norway with other, (allegedly) less pleasant countries, and publicly wished for more Norwegian immigrants to the United States.

In one of life’s little ironies, we seem to be getting what he asked for. According to data recently released by the Department of Justice, Norway is… a hotbed of successful asylum claims!

Chevron Deference was a cool doctrine, but all good things must come to an end.

Per this data, in FY2023, U.S. immigration courts adjudicated 462 asylum claims by Norwegians, 293 of which were granted — a fantastic grant rate, at over 63%. This would put Norwegians ahead of North Koreans (13%), Sudanese (41%), Venezuelans (33%), and Afghans (55%).

Gentle reader: Greet these claims with heavy skepticism.

The data set is extraordinary. It contains so many puzzling elements that we have difficulty in interpreting it. Here is the snippet which includes Niger through Pakistan:

Per this data, no one was granted asylum from Nigeria or Niger during the six months examined — but 59 cases from Niger were disposed of via other methods. Per this data, 148 people applied for asylum from North Korea during the six months examined, but North Koreans were twice as likely to lose than to win asylum. Per this data, Norway is one of the most likely countries in the world from which to win asylum. (Only Nepal and Egypt stand out as bigger winners among medium-sized countries.)

It is conceivable that much of this data is accurate. (For example, North Koreans are very likely to have received refugee status in South Korea, thereby making them presumptively ineligible for asylum in the United States, if they later try to claim it.) However, there are too many howlers for us to trust the data set. It’s not just Norway — it’s Sweden (grant rate: 47%) and Slovakia (grant rate: 56%).

We would also like to point out that the Heard and McDonald Islands are not a country at all. It is administered by Australia. Its population is zero, except for seals and seabirds. Why is it on this chart?

Another strange entry: the nation of “Upper Volta” changed its name to Burkina Faso in 1984. (Burkina Faso is listed separately.)

Data sets often contain more truth than fiction even when apparently anomalous. But this data set is too strange to be credited. In addition, EOIR’s reputation for data tracking does not give us reason to credit these apparently surprising results.

We are not the only ones who have noticed these peculiarities. We call on EOIR to release the source data for these materials, correct the data as necessary, and provide background on its sources and methods. This data matters — not just to lawyers and judges, but to asylum applicants, who frequently are in the dark about how long their cases will take and what their odds of success are.

As always, we welcome your comments and will do our best to respond.

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The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!

This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.

100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.

For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at

Submit your own Announcement here.

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