Judge Georgina M. Picos

FY 2016 - 2021, 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

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Picos decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2016 through 2021. During this period, Judge Picos is recorded as deciding 1222 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 98, gave no conditional grants, and denied 1124. Converted to percentage terms, Picos denied 92 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 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.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Picos's denial rate of 92 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 67.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Picos was based, judges there denied asylum 92.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Picos can also be ranked compared to each of the 558 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 558 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 558 represented the lowest - Judge Picos here receives a rank of 99. That is 98 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 459 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 Picos, 12.1% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 18.3% 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 Picos, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 45.7 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Picos were: Honduras (38.5 %), Guatemala (7.5%), Mexico (3.5%), China (1.1%). 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 (18.7%), Guatemala (16.0%), Honduras (15.0%), Mexico (11.8%), China (8.4%), India (3.8%), Cuba (2.7%), Haiti (1.8%), Venezuela (1.6%), Cameroon (1.5%), Nicaragua (1.2%), Nepal (1.2%), Ecuador (1.1%).

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