Published Oct 19, 2023
Then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appointed Mary C. Baumgarten to beginhearing cases in March 2019. Judge Baumgarten earned a Bachelor of Science in 1985 from theUniversity of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctor in 1989 from the State University of New York atBuffalo Law School. From 1989 to 1995, Judge Baumgarten served as an associate at NixonHargrave Devaus & Doyle. From 1995 to 2002, she served as an assistant attorney general forthe New York State Office of the Attorney General. From 2002 to 2004, she served as a lawclerk under the Honorable William M. Skretny, U.S. District Court, Western District of NewYork. From 2004 to 2007, she served as a confidential law clerk for the Honorable Erin M.Peradotto, Appellate Division, 4th Department. From 2007 through 2018, she served as anassistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of New York. Judge Baumgarten is a member ofthe New York Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Baumgarten were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Baumgarten decided 150 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 5, granted 1 other types of relief, and denied relief to 144. Converted to percentage terms, Baumgarten denied 96.0 percent and granted 4.0 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Baumgarten's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Baumgarten's denial rate of 96.0 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Los Fresnos Immigration Court where Judge Baumgarten decided these cases denied asylum 84.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Baumgarten'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 Baumgarten, 52% 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 Baumgarten came from Cuba. Individuals from this country made up 33.3% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Baumgarten were: Nicaragua (9.3%), Venezuela (7.3%), Honduras (6.0%), India (6.0%). 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%).