Judge Irene C. Feldman

FY 2015 - 2020, Eloy Immigration Court

Judge Feldman was appointed as an immigration judge in August 2008. She received a bachelor of arts degree in 1983 from Mount Holyoke College, a juris doctorate in 1988 from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and a masters in management degree in 1995 from Boston University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. From April 2001 to August 2008, Judge Feldman served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico and Tucson. From June 1996 to April 2001, she worked as an assistant district counsel, office of the district counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in New Jersey. From October 1989 to August 1994, Judge Feldman was an assistant prosecutor, Office of the County Prosecutor, Bergen County, N.J. She is a member of the New Jersey Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Feldman decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Feldman is recorded as deciding 154 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 9, gave no conditional grants, and denied 145. Converted to percentage terms, Feldman denied 94.2 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 5.8 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Feldman'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 Feldman's denial rate of 94.2 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Eloy Immigration Court where Judge Feldman was based, judges there denied asylum 73.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Feldman 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 Feldman here receives a rank of 61. That is 60 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 465 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
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 Feldman, 62.3% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 19% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Nationality

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 Feldman, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Mexico. Individuals from this nation made up 39 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Feldman were: Cuba (11 %), Guatemala (8.4%), India (7.1%), El Salvador (6.5%). 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 (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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