Judge Margaret M. Kolbe
FY 2014 - 2019, New York Immigration Court
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Judge Kolbe to begin hearing cases in January 2016. Judge Kolbe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in 1989 from the University of Cincinnati, and a Juris Doctor in 1996 from the Notre Dame Law School. From 2002 through 2015, Judge Kolbe served as assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, N.Y. From 1996 through 2002, Judge Kolbe served as an attorney advisor for the Board of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice, in Falls Church, Va., and from 1991 through 1993, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Africa. Judge Kolbe is a member of the Ohio Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Kolbe decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2014 through 2019. During this period, Judge
Kolbe is recorded as deciding 639 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 473, gave no conditional grants, and denied 166.
Converted to percentage terms, Kolbe denied 26 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 74 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Kolbe'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 Kolbe's denial rate of 26 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 63.1 percent
of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Kolbe
was based, judges there denied asylum 26.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Kolbe 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 Kolbe here receives a rank of 404. That is 403
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 52 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 Kolbe, 0.9% 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.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Kolbe, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 29.6 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Kolbe were:
El Salvador (13.9 %), India (10.5%), Honduras (8.3%), Guatemala (7%).
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%).