Judge D. D. Sitgraves
FY 2001 - 2006
Judge Sitgraves was appointed as an Immigration Judge in October 1994. She received a
Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University in 1979, and a Juris Doctorate from Texas
Southern University in 1982. From 1989 to 1994, she was a trial attorney with the former
Immigration and Naturalization Service in El Paso, Texas. From 1983 to 1989, she worked as
an assistant district attorney for the El Paso District Attorney. Judge Sitgraves is a member of
the Texas Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Sitgraves decisions are available for the period covering
fiscal years 2001 through 2006. During this period, Judge
Sitgraves is recorded as deciding 195 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
she granted 54, gave no conditional grants, and denied 141.
Converted to percentage terms, Sitgraves denied 72.3 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 27.7 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Sitgraves'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 Sitgraves's denial rate of 72.3 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 60.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the San Pedro Immigration Court where Judge Sitgraves
was usually based, judges there denied asylum 60.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Sitgraves 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 Sitgraves receives a rank of 97. That is 96
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 141 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 Sitgraves, 47.2% 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 Sitgraves, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came
from Mexico. Individuals from this nation made up 20 % of her caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Sitgraves were:
El Salvador (17.9 %), China (13.8%), Armenia (12.8%), Guatemala (6.7%).
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 (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%).