Published Oct 19, 2023
Judge Lopez-Enriquez was appointed as an immigration judge in April 2009. She received a bachelor of science degree in 1988 from the University of Florida, College of Business; a juris doctorate in 1991 from the University of Florida, College of Law; and a master of international business in 1993 from Florida International University. From September 2006 to April 2009, Judge Lopez-Enriquez served as an assistant chief counsel for ICE, DHS, in Miami. During this time, from February 2007 to April 2009, her duty station was at the Krome Detention Center. From 2005 to September 2006, she was in private practice in Davie, Fla. From 2003 to 2005, Judge Lopez-Enriquez served as a trial attorney with ICE, DHS, in Miami. From 1994 to 2002, she worked as a trial attorney and asylum officer with the former INS in Miami. From 1993 to 1994, Judge Lopez-Enriquez was in private practice in Miami. From 1992 to 1993, she worked for the Legal Services of Greater Miami on the American Immigration Lawyers Association pro bono project. Judge Lopez-Enriquez is a member of the Florida Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Lopez-Enriquez were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Lopez-Enriquez decided 279 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 10, granted 8 other types of relief, and denied relief to 261. Converted to percentage terms, Lopez-Enriquez denied 93.5 percent and granted 6.5 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Lopez-Enriquez's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Lopez-Enriquez's denial rate of 93.5 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Miami - Krome Immigration Court where Judge Lopez-Enriquez decided these cases denied asylum 89.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Lopez-Enriquez'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.
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 Lopez-Enriquez, 40.1% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.
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 Lopez-Enriquez came from Haiti. Individuals from this country made up 16.8% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Lopez-Enriquez were: Guatemala (15.1%), Cuba (11.5%), Honduras (8.6%), Jamaica (8.2%). 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%).