Judge Matthew J. D'Angelo

FY 2015 - 2020, Boston Immigration Court

Judge D'Angelo was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 2003. Prior to his appointment as an Immigration Judge in Boston, he served as an Immigration Judge in Hartford, Connecticut from April 2003 to March 2006. Judge D'Angelo received an undergraduate degree in 1984 from Stonehill College, and a Juris Doctorate in 1988 from New England School of Law in Boston. From 1988 until his appointment in April 2003, Judge D'Angelo served as an assistant district counsel in charge of the detention division at the Department of Homeland Security (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) in Boston. During this time, from 2000 until April 2003, he also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division in the Boston U.S. Attorney's Office. Judge D'Angelo is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge D'Angelo decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge D'Angelo is recorded as deciding 413 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 232, gave no conditional grants, and denied 181. Converted to percentage terms, D'Angelo denied 43.8 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 56.2 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge D'Angelo's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge D'Angelo's denial rate of 43.8 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Boston Immigration Court where Judge D'Angelo was based, judges there denied asylum 46.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge D'Angelo 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 D'Angelo here receives a rank of 441. That is 440 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 85 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.

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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 D'Angelo, 13.3% 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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge D'Angelo, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 21.5 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge D'Angelo were: Guatemala (17.9 %), Honduras (7.7%), China (6.3%), Dominican Republic (4.1%). 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%).

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