Judge Denise A. Marks Lane

FY 2013 - 2018, Miami Immigration Court

Judge Lane was appointed as an Immigration Judge in September 1994. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1983, and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center in 1986. From 1989 to 1994, Judge Lane served as a staff attorney with the Board of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), in Falls Church, Virginia, before being appointed as an Immigration Judge. From 1987 to 1989, she worked as a trial attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York. Judge Lane also served as a judicial law clerk, Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, EOIR, from 1986 to 1987. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Marks Lane decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge Marks Lane is recorded as deciding 288 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 83, gave no conditional grants, and denied 205. Converted to percentage terms, Marks Lane denied 71.2 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 28.8 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Marks Lane'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 Marks Lane's denial rate of 71.2 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Miami Immigration Court where Judge Marks Lane was based, judges there denied asylum 79.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Marks Lane can also be ranked compared to each of the 347 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 347 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 347 represented the lowest - Judge Marks Lane here receives a rank of 170. That is 169 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 177 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 (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Marks Lane, 6.6% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 20% 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 Marks Lane, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 29.2 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Marks Lane were: Haiti (20.5 %), Guatemala (11.1%), El Salvador (10.4%), Venezuela (5.2%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (18.5%), El Salvador (14.7%), Mexico (12.0%), Honduras (10.9%), Guatemala (10.3%), India (3.2%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.8%), Eritrea (1.3%), Ethiopia (1.3%), Somalia (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%), Bangladesh (1.0%).

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