Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General William P. Barr appointed David White as an immigration judge in June 2020.Judge White earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1982 from the University of North Carolina and a JurisDoctorate in 1992 from Washington and Lee University. From 2018 to 2020, he served as anattorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, Department of Justice, in the District of Columbia.From 2014 to 2018, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for theDistrict of the Virgin Islands, in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. From 2008 to 2014, he served as anattorney, Office of Chief Counsel, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, Department ofHomeland Security, in the District of Columbia. From 2004 to 2008, he served in the AppellateSection, Department of Justice, in the District of Columbia. Judge White is a member of theDistrict of Columbia Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge White were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge White decided 151 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 7, granted 0 other types of relief, and denied relief to 144. Converted to percentage terms, White denied 95.4 percent and granted 4.6 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge White's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge White's denial rate of 95.4 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Arlington Immigration Court where Judge White decided these cases denied asylum 55.8 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge White'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 White, 9.9% 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 White came from El Salvador. Individuals from this country made up 51.7% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge White were: Guatemala (23.8%), Honduras (13.9%), Mexico (2.0%), Peru (2.0%). 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%).