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Judge David C. Anderson
FY 2018 - 2023, West Valley Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Judge Anderson was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 2003. He received an undergraduate degree in 1988 from Brigham Young University, and a Juris Doctorate in 1991 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Prior to joining the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Judge Anderson served as an assistant district counsel with the Department of Homeland Security [formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)] in San Pedro, California, from January 2000 until his appointment in April 2003. He also served as assistant district counsel with the INS in Los Angeles from December 1998 to January 2000. Judge Anderson served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 1992 to November 1998. He is a member of the California Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Anderson were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Anderson decided 1055 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 529, granted 17 other types of relief, and denied relief to 509. Converted to percentage terms, Anderson denied 48.2 percent and granted 51.7 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Anderson's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Anderson's denial rate of 48.2 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the West Valley Immigration Court where Judge Anderson decided these cases denied asylum 50.3 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Anderson's asylum grant and denial rates are compared with other judges serving on the same court in this table. Note that when an Immigration Judge serves on more than one court during the same period, separate Immigration Judge reports are created for any Court in which the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions.

Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

Although denial rates are shaped by each Judge's judicial philosophy, denial rates are also shaped by other factors, such as the types of cases on the Judge's docket, the detained status of immigrant respondents, current immigration policies, and other factors beyond an individual Judge's control. For example, TRAC has previously found that legal representation and the nationality of the asylum seeker are just two factors that appear to impact asylum decision outcomes.

The composition of cases may differ significantly between Immigration Courts in the country. Within a single Court when cases are randomly assigned to judges sitting on that Court, each Judge should have roughly a similar composition of cases given a sufficient number of asylum cases. Then variations in asylum decisions among Judges on the same Immigration Court would appear to reflect, at least in part, the judicial philosophy that the Judge brings to the bench. However, if judges within a Court are assigned to specialized dockets or hearing locations, then case compositions are likely to continue to differ and can contribute to differences in asylum denial rates.


When asylum seekers are not represented by an attorney, almost all of them (80%) are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Anderson, 10.4% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation


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.

The largest group of asylum seekers appearing before Judge Anderson came from Venezuela. Individuals from this country made up 43.8% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Anderson were: Mexico (23.0%), Guatemala (9.4%), El Salvador (8.5%), Honduras (5.6%). 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 (16.6%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (13.8%), Mexico (9.2%), China (6.8%), India (5.1%), Venezuela (3.2%), Ecuador (3.1%), Cuba (2.4%), Nicaragua (2.3%), Brazil (2.0%), Colombia (1.4%), Cameroon (1.4%).

Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.