Judge Wayne K. Houser, Jr.
FY 2015 - 2020, Atlanta Immigration Court
Judge Houser was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 2002. Prior to his appointment
to the Immigration Court in Atlanta in May 2004, he served as an Immigration Judge in the
Immigration Court in New Orleans, LA. Judge Houser received a Bachelor of Arts degree in
1976 from the University of Tennessee, and a Juris Doctorate in 1978 from Memphis State
University (now the University of Memphis). He served as a referee judge for the State of
Tennessee in Knoxville from September 1993 until April 2002. Judge Houser was in private
practice in Knoxville from 1985 to 1993. From 1982 to 1984, he served as Assistant State
Attorney General for Tennessee. Judge Houser worked as a judicial law clerk in the Court of
Criminal Appeals for the State of Tennessee from 1981 to 1982. He is a member of the
Tennessee Bar, the Knoxville Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Houser decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Houser is recorded as deciding 105 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 5, gave no conditional grants, and denied 100.
Converted to percentage terms, Houser denied 95.2 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 4.8 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Houser'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 Houser's denial rate of 95.2 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Atlanta Immigration Court where Judge Houser
was based, judges there denied asylum 96.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Houser can also be ranked compared to each of the 526 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 526 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 526
represented the lowest - Judge Houser here receives a rank of 53. That is 52
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 473 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.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
attorney, almost all (88%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Houser, 12.4% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 19% 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 Houser, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Guatemala. Individuals from this nation made up 24.8 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Houser were:
Honduras (19 %), El Salvador (18.1%), Mexico (12.4%), Gambia (2.9%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (18.1%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (14.7%), Mexico (11.8%), China (10.2%), India (3.7%), Cuba (2.5%), Haiti (1.8%), Cameroon (1.5%), Venezuela (1.3%), Nepal (1.3%), Nicaragua (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%).