Published Oct 19, 2023
Then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appointed Kyung S. Auh to begin hearingcases in March 2019. Judge Auh earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2002 from the State University ofNew York at Binghamton, and a Juris Doctor in 2010 from the City of New York UniversitySchool of Law. From 2012 to 2019, Judge Auh served as a judge advocate assigned to the NewYork Air National Guard and the Florida Air National Guard at the following locations: LongIsland, New York; St. Augustine, Florida; and Rome, New York. From 2016 to 2018, he servedas an assistant chief counsel for the Office of Chief Counsel, Immigration and CustomsEnforcement, Department of Homeland Security, in Miami. From 2010 to 2016, he served as anassistant district attorney with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in Kew Gardens,New York. From 2007 to 2012, he held various headquarters staff positions with the New YorkAir National Guard in Long Island, New York. From 2003 to 2007, he served in the Air Force onactive duty while stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and Robins Air Force Base,Georgia. Judge Auh is a member of the New York State Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Auh were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Auh decided 188 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 74, granted 4 other types of relief, and denied relief to 110. Converted to percentage terms, Auh denied 58.5 percent and granted 41.5 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Auh's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Auh's denial rate of 58.5 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Bloomington Immigration Court where Judge Auh decided these cases denied asylum 70 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Auh'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 Auh, 50% 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 Auh came from Cuba. Individuals from this country made up 34.0% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Auh were: El Salvador (9.6%), Honduras (7.4%), Cameroon (6.9%), India (6.9%). 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%).