Judge Afsaneh Ashley Tabaddor

FY 2016 - 2021, Los Angeles Immigration Court

Judge Tabaddor was appointed as an immigration judge in November 2005. She received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, (cum laude) in 1994, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1997. Judge Tabaddor served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles from May 2002 to November 2005. During this period, Judge Tabaddor also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Law School. She served as a trial attorney with the Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., from September 2000 to May 2002. During this period, Judge Tabaddor also served as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. She served in the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge in Falls Church, Va., as an attorney advisor from July 1999 to September 2000, and as a judicial law clerk/attorney advisor from September 1997 to July 1999. Judge Tabaddor worked as a summer law intern in the immigration court in Los Angeles from June 1996 to August 1996. She is a member of the California Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Tabaddor decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2016 through 2021. During this period, Judge Tabaddor is recorded as deciding 346 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 62, gave no conditional grants, and denied 284. Converted to percentage terms, Tabaddor denied 82.1 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 17.9 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Tabaddor'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 Tabaddor's denial rate of 82.1 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 67.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Los Angeles Immigration Court where Judge Tabaddor was based, judges there denied asylum 75 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Tabaddor can also be ranked compared to each of the 558 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 558 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 558 represented the lowest - Judge Tabaddor here receives a rank of 223. That is 222 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 335 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 Tabaddor, 7.8% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 18.3% 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 Tabaddor, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 51.2 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Tabaddor were: Guatemala (21.4 %), Honduras (9.2%), Mexico (7.2%), China (5.8%). 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 (18.7%), Guatemala (16.0%), Honduras (15.0%), Mexico (11.8%), China (8.4%), India (3.8%), Cuba (2.7%), Haiti (1.8%), Venezuela (1.6%), Cameroon (1.5%), Nicaragua (1.2%), Nepal (1.2%), Ecuador (1.1%).

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