Judge Raisa Cohen

FY 2015 - 2020, New York Immigration Court

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Judge Raisa Cohen to begin hearing cases in March 2016. Judge Cohen earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2002 from Baruch College, City University of New York Zicklin School of Business, and a Juris Doctor in 2007 from St. John’s University School of Law. From September 2015 to February 2016, and previously from April 2009 to September 2014, Judge Cohen served as assistant chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in New York. From October 2014 to September 2015, Judge Cohen was an attorney at Cohen & Cohen Law Group PC, in New York. From 2007 through 2009, Judge Cohen was an immigration attorney at the Law Firm of Ted Sofer, in New York. Judge Cohen is a member of the New York State Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Cohen decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Cohen is recorded as deciding 839 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 671, gave no conditional grants, and denied 168. Converted to percentage terms, Cohen denied 20 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 80 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Cohen'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 Cohen's denial rate of 20 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Cohen was based, judges there denied asylum 32.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Cohen 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 Cohen here receives a rank of 493. That is 492 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 33 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 (88%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Cohen, 1.2% 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 Cohen, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from China. Individuals from this nation made up 32.7 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Cohen were: India (12.2 %), El Salvador (11.4%), Nepal (7.9%), Honduras (5.8%). 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%).

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