Judge Keith E. Hunsucker
FY 2015 - 2020, Los Fresnos Immigration Court
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Judge Hunsucker in August 2010. Judge Hunsucker received a bachelor of arts degree in 1984 from the University of Akron and a juris doctorate in 1987 from the University of Akron School of Law. From 2000 to August 2010, he worked as a senior instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Legal Division, Department of Homeland Security, in Glynco, Ga. From 1992 to 2000, Judge Hunsucker worked as an attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Atlanta. From 1989 to 1992, he was an attorney for the former INS in Harlingen, Texas. From April 1989 to September 1989, Judge Hunsucker was a law clerk for the Ohio Court of Appeals, 9th Judicial District. From 1988 to 1989, he was in private practice. From 1987 to 1988, Judge Hunsucker worked as an INS attorney in the Attorney General's Honors Program in San Francisco, Calif. Judge Hunsucker is a member of the Ohio State and District of Columbia Bars.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Hunsucker decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Hunsucker is recorded as deciding 220 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 33, gave no conditional grants, and denied 187.
Converted to percentage terms, Hunsucker denied 85 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 15 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Hunsucker'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 Hunsucker's denial rate of 85 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Los Fresnos Immigration Court where Judge Hunsucker
was based, judges there denied asylum 86.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Hunsucker 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 Hunsucker here receives a rank of 177. That is 176
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 349 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 Hunsucker, 57.7% 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 Hunsucker, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 16.4 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Hunsucker were:
El Salvador (14.5 %), Mexico (13.2%), Eritrea (11.4%), Somalia (10.5%).
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%).