Published Oct 19, 2023
Former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Edward M. Barcus to begin hearing cases in April 2017. Judge Barcus earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from Austin College and a Juris Doctor in 1988 from the University of Texas School of Law. He has been the interim executive director of Iron Gate in Tulsa, Okla., since November 2016. From 2015 through 2016, he was a conflict consultant for Concord Consultants Inc. From 2012 through 2015, he was a district judge for the Tulsa County District Court. From 2003 to 2012, he was a special judge for the State of Oklahoma, serving as Vice Chief Judge of the Family Division, Tulsa County District Court, from 2010 to 2012. From 2000 through 2003, he served as the first Family Court Referee for Tulsa County. Judge Barcus is a member of the Oklahoma Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Barcus were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Barcus decided 353 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 178, granted 45 other types of relief, and denied relief to 130. Converted to percentage terms, Barcus denied 36.8 percent and granted 63.1 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Barcus's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Barcus's denial rate of 36.8 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Imperial Immigration Court where Judge Barcus decided these cases denied asylum 44.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Barcus'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 Barcus, 35.4% 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 Barcus came from India. Individuals from this country made up 29.7% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Barcus were: Eritrea (12.2%), El Salvador (11.6%), Mexico (10.2%), Honduras (5.4%). 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%).