Judge Keith E. Hunsucker

FY 2013 - 2018, 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

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Hunsucker decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge Hunsucker is recorded as deciding 489 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 90, gave no conditional grants, and denied 399. Converted to percentage terms, Hunsucker denied 81.6 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 18.4 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.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Hunsucker's denial rate of 81.6 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Los Fresnos Immigration Court where Judge Hunsucker was based, judges there denied asylum 81.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Hunsucker can also be ranked compared to each of the 347 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 347 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 347 represented the lowest - Judge Hunsucker here receives a rank of 125. That is 124 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 222 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 (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Hunsucker, 58.7% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 20% 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 Hunsucker, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 19.8 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Hunsucker were: El Salvador (14.5 %), Mexico (14.5%), Guatemala (10.6%), Eritrea (9.4%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (18.5%), El Salvador (14.7%), Mexico (12.0%), Honduras (10.9%), Guatemala (10.3%), India (3.2%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.8%), Eritrea (1.3%), Ethiopia (1.3%), Somalia (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%), Bangladesh (1.0%).

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