Judge Saundra H. Arrington

FY 2014 - 2019, Lumpkin Immigration Court

Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Judge Arrington in August 2010. Judge Arrington received a bachelor of arts degree in 1974 from the University of California at Irvine and a juris doctorate in 1994 from Southern Methodist University School of Law. From 2008 to August 2010, she served as associate counsel for the Office of the Chief Counsel, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. From 2007 to 2008, Judge Arrington worked as a senior attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Dallas. From 2000 to 2007, she worked as a trial attorney for ICE in Dallas. From 1994 to 2000, Judge Arrington was an assistant district attorney and state prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. She has taught immigration law courses at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Ga. Judge Arrington is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Arrington decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2014 through 2019. During this period, Judge Arrington is recorded as deciding 281 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 12, gave no conditional grants, and denied 269. Converted to percentage terms, Arrington denied 95.7 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 4.3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Arrington'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 Arrington's denial rate of 95.7 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 63.1 percent of asylum claims. In the Lumpkin Immigration Court where Judge Arrington was based, judges there denied asylum 92.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Arrington can also be ranked compared to each of the 456 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 456 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 456 represented the lowest - Judge Arrington here receives a rank of 40. That is 39 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 416 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

If an asylum seeker is not represented by an attorney, almost all (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Arrington, 60.9% 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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Arrington, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 20.6 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Arrington were: Somalia (8.9 %), Honduras (7.5%), China (7.1%), Guatemala (5.3%). 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 (17.3%), China (13.5%), Honduras (13.3%), Guatemala (13.0%), Mexico (12.1%), India (3.8%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.6%), Cuba (1.2%), Eritrea (1.1%), Cameroon (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%), Ecuador (0.9%).

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