Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan
FY 2001 - 2006
Judge Der-Yeghiayan was appointed Immigration Judge in December 2000. He received his
B.A. from Evangel College in 1975 and his J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1978.
Judge Der-Yeghiayan was selected in 1978 as a trial attorney for the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) in Chicago under the Attorney General's Honor Program. In 1981,
he was promoted to the position of district counsel for the Chicago District of the INS where he
served until his appointment as an Immigration Judge in December 2000. He received the INS
"District Counsel of the Year" award in 1998 and the Frank J. McGarr award for "Outstanding
Government Attorney of the Year" in 1986 from the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar
Association. He is a member of the Illinois Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Der-Yeghiayan decisions are available for the period covering
fiscal years 2001 through 2006. During this period, Judge
Der-Yeghiayan is recorded as deciding 258 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 81, gave no conditional grants, and denied 177.
Converted to percentage terms, Der-Yeghiayan denied 68.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 31.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Der-Yeghiayan'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 Der-Yeghiayan's denial rate of 68.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 60.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Der-Yeghiayan
was usually based, judges there denied asylum 63.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Der-Yeghiayan 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 Der-Yeghiayan receives a rank of 113. That is 112
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 125 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 Der-Yeghiayan, 7.4% 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 Der-Yeghiayan, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 15.9 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Der-Yeghiayan were:
Guatemala (14.7 %), Poland (5%), Pakistan (4.7%), Albania (4.3%).
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%).