Judge Rodger C. Harris
FY 2015 - 2020, Arlington Immigration Court
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
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Harris decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Harris is recorded as deciding 235 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 22, gave no conditional grants, and denied 213.
Converted to percentage terms, Harris denied 90.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 9.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Harris's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
(Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Harris's denial rate of 90.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Arlington Immigration Court where Judge Harris
was based, judges there denied asylum 56.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Harris 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 Harris here receives a rank of 107. That is 106
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 419 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.
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 Harris, 23.8% 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.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Harris, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 40 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Harris were:
Honduras (13.6 %), Guatemala (12.3%), Mexico (4.3%), Ethiopia (3%).
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%).