Judge Arlene E. Dorfman
FY 2014 - 2019, Adelanto Immigration Court
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Judge Dorfman in July 2011. Judge Dorfman received a bachelor of arts degree in 1996 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a juris doctorate in 2000 from Loyola Law School. From 2009 to 2011, she served as senior attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Los Angeles. From March 2003 to 2009, she was an assistant chief counsel for ICE. From 2000 to February 2003, she was an assistant chief counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. Judge Dorfman is a member of the State Bar of Arizona.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Dorfman decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2014 through 2019. During this period, Judge
Dorfman is recorded as deciding 130 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
she granted 20, gave no conditional grants, and denied 110.
Converted to percentage terms, Dorfman denied 84.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 15.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Dorfman'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 Dorfman's denial rate of 84.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 63.1 percent
of asylum claims. In the Adelanto Immigration Court where Judge Dorfman
was based, judges there denied asylum 80.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Dorfman 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 Dorfman here receives a rank of 152. That is 151
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 304 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 (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Dorfman, 64.6% 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 Dorfman, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came
from Mexico. Individuals from this nation made up 44.6 % of her caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Dorfman were:
El Salvador (10 %), Somalia (7.7%), Guatemala (6.9%), Ghana (5.4%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were 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%).