Judge Jennie L. Giambastiani

FY 2014 - 2019, Chicago Immigration Court

Judge Giambastiani was appointed as an Immigration Judge in May 2002. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983 from Loyola University of Chicago, and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law in 1986. Prior to becoming an Immigration Judge, from April 1987 until May 2002, Judge Giambastiani served as district counsel, deputy district counsel, assistant district counsel, and supervisory legalization officer for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in Chicago. Judge Giambastiani is a member of the Illinois Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Giambastiani decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2014 through 2019. During this period, Judge Giambastiani is recorded as deciding 458 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 188, gave no conditional grants, and denied 270. Converted to percentage terms, Giambastiani denied 59 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 41 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Giambastiani's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Giambastiani's denial rate of 59 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 63.1 percent of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Giambastiani was based, judges there denied asylum 50 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Giambastiani can also be ranked compared to each of the 456 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 456 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 456 represented the lowest - Judge Giambastiani here receives a rank of 315. That is 314 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 141 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 (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Giambastiani, 23.6% 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 Giambastiani, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 24.2 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Giambastiani were: El Salvador (20.3 %), Mexico (16.4%), Guatemala (15.9%), China (7.4%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (17.3%), China (13.5%), Honduras (13.3%), Guatemala (13.0%), Mexico (12.1%), India (3.8%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.6%), Cuba (1.2%), Eritrea (1.1%), Cameroon (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%), Ecuador (0.9%).

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