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Judge Rodger C. Harris
FY 2018 - 2023, Charlotte Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Rodger C. Harris was appointed as an immigration judge in January 2007. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1976 from the University of South Florida, Tampa; a master of business administration degree in 1983 from the National University, San Diego; a juris doctorate in 1987 from the National University School of Law, San Diego; and a master of judicial studies degree in 2006 from the National Judicial College, University of Nevada, Reno. From 1967 to 1970 and 1977 to December 2006, Judge Harris served in the U.S. Marine Corps. As an officer in the Marine Corps, Judge Harris first served as a naval aviator and then in varying legal and judicial positions at various locations. Judge Harris is a member of the California and Ohio bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Harris were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Harris decided 597 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 109, granted 15 other types of relief, and denied relief to 473. Converted to percentage terms, Harris denied 79.2 percent and granted 20.8 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Harris'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 Harris's denial rate of 79.2 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Charlotte Immigration Court where Judge Harris decided these cases denied asylum 88.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Harris'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 Harris, 19.1% 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 Harris came from Honduras. Individuals from this country made up 31.8% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Harris were: El Salvador (30.5%), Guatemala (16.1%), Mexico (10.7%), Venezuela (2.5%). 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.