Judge Agnelis L. Reese

FY 2015 - 2020, Oakdale Immigration Court

Judge Reese was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1997. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 from Louisiana Tech University, and a Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center in 1989. From 1989 to 1997, Judge Reese served as assistant district counsel, for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a member of the Louisiana Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Reese decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Reese is recorded as deciding 193 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 1, gave no conditional grants, and denied 192. Converted to percentage terms, Reese denied 99.5 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 0.5 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Reese'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 Reese's denial rate of 99.5 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Oakdale Immigration Court where Judge Reese was based, judges there denied asylum 86.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Reese can also be ranked compared to each of the 526 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 526 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 526 represented the lowest - Judge Reese here receives a rank of 2. That is 1 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 524 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 Reese, 51.3% 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 Reese, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Cuba. Individuals from this nation made up 16.1 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Reese were: Honduras (14.5 %), Somalia (10.9%), El Salvador (8.8%), Eritrea (6.7%). 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 (18.1%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (14.7%), Mexico (11.8%), China (10.2%), India (3.7%), Cuba (2.5%), Haiti (1.8%), Cameroon (1.5%), Venezuela (1.3%), Nepal (1.3%), Nicaragua (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%).

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