Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General William Barr appointed Brea C. Burgie to begin hearing cases in October2019. Judge Burgie received a Bachelor of Arts in 2002 from the University of NorthernColorado and a Juris Doctor in 2007 from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. In2019, she served as the legal program director for the International Rescue Committee, inDenver. From 2016 to 2019, she served as the Department of Justice, Executive Office forImmigration Review’s (EOIR) fraud and abuse prevention counsel. From 2009 to 2011, sheserved as an attorney advisor through the Attorney General’s Honors Program, Office of theGeneral Counsel, EOIR, for the Phoenix and Tucson immigration courts. From 2008 to 2009, shewas the legal director for the Asylum Program of Arizona. From 2007 to 2008, she served as alaw clerk to the Honorable Ann A. Scott Timmer, formerly of the Arizona Court of Appeals.Judge Burgie is a member of the Arizona State Bar and Colorado State Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Burgie were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Burgie decided 493 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 291, granted 7 other types of relief, and denied relief to 195. Converted to percentage terms, Burgie denied 39.6 percent and granted 60.4 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Burgie's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Burgie's denial rate of 39.6 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Denver Immigration Court where Judge Burgie decided these cases denied asylum 65 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Burgie'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 Burgie, 19.9% 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 Burgie came from Guatemala. Individuals from this country made up 18.5% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Burgie were: Honduras (17.6%), El Salvador (16.0%), Mexico (14.0%), Colombia (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%).