Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General Barr appointed Eugene H. Robinson Jr. to begin hearing cases in January 2020. Judge Robinson earned a Bachelor of Science in 1987 from University of South Carolina, a Juris Doctor in 1990 from Howard University School of Law, and a Master of Laws in 2002 from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School. From 2018 to 2019, he served as the deputy chief for hearings in the State Office of Administrative Hearings for the State of Texas. From 2012 to 2018, he served as a military judge in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Pendleton, California. From 2011 to 2012, he was the staff judge advocate for 3d Marine Logistics Group, Okinawa, Japan. From 2005 to 2011, he served as a military judge in the Western Judicial Circuit, Camp Pendleton, California, and as deputy chief trial judge for the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary at the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia. From 1991 to 2005, he served a judge advocate in the following locations: Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona; 3d Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans; Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia; and Camp Pendleton, California. Judge Robinson is a member of the Pennsylvania State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, and State Bar of Texas.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Robinson were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Robinson decided 210 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 109, granted 35 other types of relief, and denied relief to 66. Converted to percentage terms, Robinson denied 31.4 percent and granted 68.6 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Robinson's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Robinson's denial rate of 31.4 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Imperial Immigration Court where Judge Robinson decided these cases denied asylum 44.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Robinson'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 Robinson, 19% 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 Robinson came from Mexico. Individuals from this country made up 12.9% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Robinson were: Bangladesh (11.4%), Russia (10.5%), El Salvador (7.1%), India (7.1%). 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%).