Judge Craig M. Zerbe
FY 2001 - 2006
Judge Zerbe was appointed as an Immigration Judge in August 1985. He received a Bachelor
of Arts degree. from La Salle College in 1970, and a Juris Doctorate from Temple University
Law School in 1975. From 1980 to 1985, Judge Zerbe served as general attorney in the
Litigation Division at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in Chicago. From 1970
to 1972, he served in the U.S. Army. Judge Zerbe is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Zerbe decisions are available for the period covering
fiscal years 2001 through 2006. During this period, Judge
Zerbe is recorded as deciding 850 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 357, gave 6 conditional grants, and denied 487.
Converted to percentage terms, Zerbe denied 57.3 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 42.7 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Zerbe's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Zerbe's denial rate of 57.3 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 60.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Zerbe
was usually based, judges there denied asylum 63.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Zerbe 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 Zerbe receives a rank of 161. That is 160
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 77 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 Zerbe, 3.4% 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 Zerbe, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 13.2 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Zerbe were:
Albania (8.6 %), Guatemala (6.6%), Colombia (4.7%), 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%).