Judge Chris A. Brisack

FY 2014 - 2019, Houston Immigration Court

Judge Brisack was appointed as an Immigration Judge in May 2005. He received an undergraduate degree in 1981 from the University of Nebraska, and a Juris Doctorate in 1985 from the University of Houston Law Center. From January to May 2005, Judge Brisack served as an attorney in the law firm of Rodriguez, Colvin, Chaney & Saenz, LL.P. in McAllen, Texas. He served as a partner and attorney in the law firm of Norquest & Brisack, LL.P. in McAllen from December 1991 to December 2004. Judge Brisack worked as an attorney in the Law Firm of Jarvis, Schwarz & Kittleman in McAllen from 1989 to December 1991. He also served as a law clerk and attorney at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, in McAllen from 1988 to 1989. Judge Brisack is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Brisack decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2014 through 2019. During this period, Judge Brisack is recorded as deciding 387 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 29, gave no conditional grants, and denied 358. Converted to percentage terms, Brisack denied 92.5 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 7.5 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Brisack'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 Brisack's denial rate of 92.5 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 63.1 percent of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Brisack was based, judges there denied asylum 92 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Brisack 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 Brisack here receives a rank of 62. That is 61 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 394 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 Brisack, 16.8% 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 Brisack, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 40.8 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Brisack were: Honduras (35.9 %), Guatemala (11.4%), Mexico (5.4%), Syria (1.3%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were 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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