Judge James R. Fujimoto
FY 2001 - 2006
Judge Fujimoto was appointed as an Immigration Judge in June 1990. He received an
undergraduate degree in 1976 from the University of Chicago, and a Juris Doctorate from
DePaul University in 1979. Judge Fujimoto was a partner in the law firm of Alexander, Fennerty
& Fujimoto in Chicago from 1981 to 1990. From 1978 to 1981, he served as a law clerk and
then associate attorney for Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, also in Chicago. Judge Fujimoto
is a member of the Illinois Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Fujimoto decisions are available for the period covering
fiscal years 2001 through 2006. During this period, Judge
Fujimoto is recorded as deciding 876 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 292, gave 1 conditional grants, and denied 583.
Converted to percentage terms, Fujimoto denied 66.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 33.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Fujimoto's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Fujimoto's denial rate of 66.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 60.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Fujimoto
was usually based, judges there denied asylum 63.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Fujimoto can also be ranked compared to each of the 238 individual immigration judges
serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions. If judges were ranked
from 1 to 238 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 238
represented the lowest - Judge Fujimoto receives a rank of 120. That is 119
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 118 denied asylum at the same
rate or less often.
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 (87%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Fujimoto, 7.8% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 8.2% 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.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Fujimoto, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Guatemala. Individuals from this nation made up 24.7 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Fujimoto were:
Albania (5.9 %), China (5.6%), Colombia (4.3%), Yugoslavia (4%).
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 (22.3%), Colombia (10.2%), Haiti (9.9%), Albania (3.9%), Indonesia (3.8%),
India (3.5%), Guatemala (3.1%), El Salvador (2.1%), Armenia (2.1%), Mexico (1.7%),
Russia (1.6%), Ethiopia (1.6%), Pakistan (1.5%), and Cameroon (1.4%).