Judge Sandy K. Hom

FY 2012 - 2017, New York Immigration Court

Judge Horn was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1993. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simpson College in 1971, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi in 1973. Prior to working for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, he was a partner with Horn & Hsiung, Esquires from 1985 to 1993 in New York. He also served as chief legal counsel to the Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church for Refugee and Migration matters. From 1979 to 1985, Judge Horn worked as a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York. He also worked as a senior attorney for District Counsel 37, Municipal Employees Legal Services, from 1977 to 1979 in New York. Judge Horn served as senior litigation attorney for the New York State Division of Human Rights from 1975 to 1977. He worked as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, Immigration Unit, in New York, from 1973 to 1975. He is a member of both the Mississippi and New York Bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Hom decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2012 through 2017. During this period, Judge Hom is recorded as deciding 1033 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 429, gave no conditional grants, and denied 604. Converted to percentage terms, Hom denied 58.5 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 41.5 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Hom's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Hom's denial rate of 58.5 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 52.8 percent of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Hom was based, judges there denied asylum 17.3 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Hom can also be ranked compared to each of the 293 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 293 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 293 represented the lowest - Judge Hom here receives a rank of 167. That is 166 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 126 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.

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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 Hom, 10.4% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 20.2% 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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Hom, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from China. Individuals from this nation made up 40.1 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Hom were: India (5.4 %), Nepal (5.2%), Soviet Union (5.2%), Mali (3.7%). 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 (23.4%), El Salvador (11.7%), Mexico (11.0%), Honduras (8.3%), Guatemala (8.2%), India (2.9%), Nepal (2.0%), Haiti (2.0%), Ethiopia (1.7%), Somalia (1.4%), Eritrea (1.4%), Egypt (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%).

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