Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Judge Tyrakoski to begin hearing cases in January 2016. Judge Tyrakoski received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996 from Northwestern University and a Juris Doctor in 2003 from the William and Mary School of Law. From 2006 through 2015, Judge Tyrakoski served as an assistant U.S. attorney in a number of U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska in Omaha, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas in El Paso, Texas, and as special assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, Calif. From 1997 through 2008, Judge Tyrakoski served in the U.S. Marine Corps in various capacities, including: staff judge advocate, legal assistance attorney, defense counsel, student judge advocate, operations officer, public affairs officer, and supply officer. Judge Tyrakoski is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Virginia Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Tyrakoski were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Tyrakoski decided 143 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 29, granted 0 other types of relief, and denied relief to 114. Converted to percentage terms, Tyrakoski denied 79.7 percent and granted 20.3 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Tyrakoski's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Tyrakoski's denial rate of 79.7 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Pearsall Immigration Court where Judge Tyrakoski decided these cases denied asylum 74.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Tyrakoski's asylum grant and denial rates are compared with other judges serving on the same court in this table. Note that when an Immigration Judge serves on more than one court during the same period, separate Immigration Judge reports are created for any Court in which the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions.
Although denial rates are shaped by each Judge's judicial philosophy, denial rates are also shaped by other factors, such as the types of cases on the Judge's docket, the detained status of immigrant respondents, current immigration policies, and other factors beyond an individual Judge's control. For example, TRAC has previously found that legal representation and the nationality of the asylum seeker are just two factors that appear to impact asylum decision outcomes.
The composition of cases may differ significantly between Immigration Courts in the country. Within a single Court when cases are randomly assigned to judges sitting on that Court, each Judge should have roughly a similar composition of cases given a sufficient number of asylum cases. Then variations in asylum decisions among Judges on the same Immigration Court would appear to reflect, at least in part, the judicial philosophy that the Judge brings to the bench. However, if judges within a Court are assigned to specialized dockets or hearing locations, then case compositions are likely to continue to differ and can contribute to differences in asylum denial rates.
When asylum seekers are not represented by an attorney, almost all of them (80%) are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Tyrakoski, 53.8% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% 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.
The largest group of asylum seekers appearing before Judge Tyrakoski came from Honduras. Individuals from this country made up 23.1% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Tyrakoski were: El Salvador (11.9%), Mexico (11.9%), Cuba (8.4%), Eritrea (7.7%). 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 (16.6%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (13.8%), Mexico (9.2%), China (6.8%), India (5.1%), Venezuela (3.2%), Ecuador (3.1%), Cuba (2.4%), Nicaragua (2.3%), Brazil (2.0%), Colombia (1.4%), Cameroon (1.4%).