Judge Chris A. Brisack
FY 2013 - 2018, Houston Immigration Court
Judge Brisack was appointed as an Immigration Judge in May 2005. He received an
undergraduate degree in 1981 from the University of Nebraska, and a Juris Doctorate in 1985
from the University of Houston Law Center. From January to May 2005, Judge Brisack served
as an attorney in the law firm of Rodriguez, Colvin, Chaney & Saenz, LL.P. in McAllen, Texas.
He served as a partner and attorney in the law firm of Norquest & Brisack, LL.P. in McAllen
from December 1991 to December 2004. Judge Brisack worked as an attorney in the Law Firm
of Jarvis, Schwarz & Kittleman in McAllen from 1989 to December 1991. He also served as a
law clerk and attorney at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, in McAllen from
1988 to 1989. Judge Brisack is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Brisack decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge
Brisack is recorded as deciding 403 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 46, gave no conditional grants, and denied 357.
Converted to percentage terms, Brisack denied 88.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 11.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Brisack's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
(Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Brisack's denial rate of 88.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent
of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Brisack
was based, judges there denied asylum 89.3 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Brisack can also be ranked compared to each of the 347 individual immigration judges
serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city's immigration court. If judges were ranked
from 1 to 347 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 347
represented the lowest - Judge Brisack here receives a rank of 76. That is 75
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 271 denied asylum at the same
rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court
during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.
Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?
Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to
different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality
of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to
reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
attorney, almost all (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Brisack, 17.1% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 20% of asylum seekers are not represented.
Asylum seekers are a
diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred
individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected,
immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have
proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given
the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers
from some nations tend to be more successful than others.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Brisack, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 38.5 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Brisack were:
Honduras (32.8 %), Guatemala (9.9%), Mexico (6.2%), China (3.5%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (18.5%), El Salvador (14.7%), Mexico (12.0%), Honduras (10.9%), Guatemala (10.3%), India (3.2%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.8%), Eritrea (1.3%), Ethiopia (1.3%), Somalia (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%), Bangladesh (1.0%).