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Judge Robin E. Feder
FY 2018 - 2023, Boston Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Robin E. Feder was appointed as an immigration judge in November 2006. She received bachelor of arts degrees in Spanish and French in 1980 from the University of Illinois and a juris doctorate in 1983 from George Washington University. Judge Feder studied at Universidad Ibero-Americana, Mexico City, Mexico, in 1976; Universidad de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, from 1977 to 1978; and the Sorbonne, Paris, France, from 1979 to 1980. From April 1996 to November 2006, Judge Feder was an assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney�s Office in Rhode Island, serving as the Chief of the Civil Division from April 1996 to January 2005. Judge Feder served as an Assistant Attorney General from January 1987 to August 1990 and as Chief of the Civil Division from August 1990 to April 1996 at the Department of Attorney General, state of Rhode Island. She was in private practice in Providence, R.I., and Chicago from November 1983 to January 1987. She is a member of the Rhode Island and Illinois bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Feder were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Feder decided 556 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 371, granted 12 other types of relief, and denied relief to 173. Converted to percentage terms, Feder denied 31.1 percent and granted 68.9 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Feder'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 Feder's denial rate of 31.1 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Boston Immigration Court where Judge Feder decided these cases denied asylum 49.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Feder'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 Feder, 3.8% 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 Feder came from El Salvador. Individuals from this country made up 35.3% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Feder were: Guatemala (30.8%), Honduras (13.8%), Brazil (5.4%), Indonesia (2.9%). 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.