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Judge Deborah E. Klahr
FY 2018 - 2023, New York Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Attorney General William Barr appointed Deborah E. Klahr to begin hearing cases in October2019. Judge Klahr earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1989 from Stern College, Yeshiva Universityand a Juris Doctor in 1992 from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. From 2018 to 2019, sheserved first as a supervisory immigration officer and then as a section chief with the New YorkCity Field Office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of HomelandSecurity (DHS), in New York. From 2017 to 2018, she served as a senior immigration servicesofficer with the Newark Field Office, USCIS, DHS, in Newark, New Jersey. From 2013 to 2017,she served first as an asylum officer and then as a supervisory asylum officer with the NewarkAsylum Office, USCIS, DHS, in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. From 2009 to 2013, she wasimmigration counsel with Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper P.C., in Westfield,New Jersey. From 2004 to 2013, she was an immigration attorney in private practice. From 2000to 2004, she was a senior immigration associate with Merrill R. Cohen & Associates P.C., inNew York. From 1997 to 1999, she was a staff attorney for the Bar Association for the City ofNew York, in New York. From 1996 to 1997, she was a litigation associate with Spector &Ehrenworth P.C., in Florham Park, New Jersey. From 1992 to 1996, she was a staff attorney forJASA/Legal Services for the Elderly, in New York. Judge Klahr is a member of the New JerseyState Bar and New York State Bar.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Klahr were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Klahr decided 505 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 429, granted 5 other types of relief, and denied relief to 71. Converted to percentage terms, Klahr denied 14.1 percent and granted 86.0 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Klahr's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Klahr's denial rate of 14.1 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the New York Immigration Court where Judge Klahr decided these cases denied asylum 34.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Klahr'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.

Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

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 Klahr, 2% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation


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 Klahr came from China. Individuals from this country made up 45.2% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Klahr were: India (12.7%), Bangladesh (6.5%), Nepal (5.4%), Guatemala (4.0%). 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%).

Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.