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Judge John F. Walsh
FY 2018 - 2023, Seattle Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Judge Walsh was appointed as an Immigration Judge in March 1997. Prior to his appointment to the Immigration Court in Los Angeles in April 2000, he served as an Immigration Judge at the Immigration Court in Detroit, Michigan, from March 1997 to February 2000. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the Philippines in 1970, a Master of Arts degree from Colorado State University in 1971, a Bachelor of Science degree. from the University of Northern Colorado in 1973, a Masters of Business Administration degree from Valdosta State College in 1976, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego, School of Law in 1980. From 1995 to 1997, Judge Walsh was a hearing officer for the San Diego Superior Court. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1974 to 1994. While in the Marine Corps, Judge Walsh served as a judge, general court martial, from 1986 to 1989, and again from 1991 to 1994. He is a member of the California Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Walsh were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Walsh decided 143 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 63, granted 3 other types of relief, and denied relief to 77. Converted to percentage terms, Walsh denied 53.8 percent and granted 46.2 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Walsh'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 Walsh's denial rate of 53.8 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Seattle Immigration Court where Judge Walsh decided these cases denied asylum 71 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Walsh'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 Walsh, 15.4% 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 Walsh came from Mexico. Individuals from this country made up 51.0% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Walsh were: China (11.9%), Guatemala (9.1%), India (8.4%), El Salvador (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.