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Judge Mimi Tsankov
FY 2018 - 2023, New York - Det Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Mimi E. Tsankov was appointed as an immigration judge in November 2006. She received a bachelor of arts degree in 1986 from James Madison University; a master of arts degree in 1990 from the University of Virginia, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics; and a juris doctorate in 1990 from the University of Virginia School of Law. From June 2001 to November 2006, Judge Tsankov was in private practice in San Diego and Los Angeles. From July 1998 to October 1999, she worked in the private sector. Judge Tsankov served as an assistant district counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in New York from September 1995 to July 1998. During this time, from February 1997 to February 1998, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. Judge Tsankov was an asylum officer with the INS in New York from November 1994 to September 1995. She served as an attorney advisor with the Peace Corps, Office of Inspector General, in Washington, D.C., from May 1992 to November 1994. From October 1990 to April 1992, Judge Tsankov was in private practice in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, and New York bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Tsankov were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Tsankov decided 115 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 20, granted 8 other types of relief, and denied relief to 87. Converted to percentage terms, Tsankov denied 75.7 percent and granted 24.4 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Tsankov'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 Tsankov's denial rate of 75.7 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the New York - Det Immigration Court where Judge Tsankov decided these cases denied asylum 61.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Tsankov'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 Tsankov, 13.9% 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 Tsankov came from . Individuals from this country made up . of her caseload. 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.