Judge John W. Davis

FY 2015 - 2020, Eloy Immigration Court

Judge Davis was appointed as an Immigration Judge in January 2002. He was assigned to the Immigration Court in Eloy, Arizona, in September 2002 after serving eight months as an Immigration Judge in Los Angeles, California. Judge Davis received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 from the University of Nebraska-Omaha; a Juris Doctorate in 1987 from Creighton University; and a Master of Laws degree in international law in 1997 from the Army Judge Advocate General's School. From November 1999 to January 2002, Judge Davis worked as an assistant district counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in Eloy, Arizona. He served in the U.S. Air Force from December 1987 to November 1999. During his tour of duty, Judge Davis served as chief, International and Operations Law, 12th Air Force, Davis- Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, from May 1997 to November 1999 ; deputy staff judge advocate, 20`h Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, from June 1994 to June 1996; and circuit trial counsel at Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, from September 1991 to June 1994. Judge Davis is a member of the Nebraska and Arizona State Bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Davis decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Davis is recorded as deciding 301 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 9, gave no conditional grants, and denied 292. Converted to percentage terms, Davis denied 97 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Davis'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 Davis's denial rate of 97 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Eloy Immigration Court where Judge Davis was based, judges there denied asylum 73.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Davis 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 Davis here receives a rank of 25. That is 24 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 501 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 Davis, 69.8% 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 Davis, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from Mexico. Individuals from this nation made up 31.6 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Davis were: Guatemala (29.2 %), El Salvador (10.3%), Haiti (6.3%), Honduras (6%). 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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