Judge Georgina M. Picos
FY 2015 - 2020, Houston Immigration Court
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Georgina M. Picos to begin hearing cases in June 2016. Judge Picos earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1987 from Florida International University and a Juris Doctor in 1991 from St. Thomas University School of Law. From 1994 to May 2016, Judge Picos served as an assistant chief counsel for the Office of the Chief Counsel, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. From 1992 through 1994, Judge Picos served as an associate attorney for the Law Offices of Magda Montiel Davis PA, in Miami. From 1991 through 1992, Judge Picos served as a judicial law clerk for the Miami Immigration Court, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Department of Justice, entering on duty through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Judge Picos is a member of the Florida Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Picos decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Picos is recorded as deciding 1197 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 93, gave no conditional grants, and denied 1104.
Converted to percentage terms, Picos denied 92.2 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 7.8 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Picos'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 Picos's denial rate of 92.2 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Picos
was based, judges there denied asylum 92.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Picos 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 Picos here receives a rank of 82. That is 81
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 444 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 (88%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Picos, 12% 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 Picos, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 45.9 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Picos were:
Honduras (38.9 %), Guatemala (7.4%), Mexico (3.5%), China (1%).
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%).