Published Oct 19, 2023
Attorney General William P. Barr appointed Randall L. Fluke as an Immigration Judge inOctober 2020. Judge Fluke earned an Associate of Arts in 1981 from San Jacinto Junior College,a Bachelor of Arts in 1981 from the University of Texas at Austin, a Juris Doctor in 1984 fromTexas Tech University School of Law, and a Master of Strategic Studies in 2013 from the U.S.Army War College. From 1990 to 2020, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S.Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas. From 1986 to 1990, he served as an assistantdistrict attorney for Lubbock and Midland Counties, in Texas. From 1984 to 1985, he was anassociate attorney with Huffaker, Green, & Huffaker, Attorneys at Law, in Tahoka, Texas. From1988 to 2018, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, retiring asa colonel in 2018. His reserve and active duty assignments included: legal advisor, InternationalCommunications and Legislative Affairs Divisionand Operational Law, Office of the Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army (Pentagon) from 2016to 2018 (reserves); legal advisor to the Convening Authority and Chief of Staff for the Office ofMilitary Commissions, Department of Defense from 2015 to 2016 (active duty mobilization);and, reserve military judge, Third Circuit, from 2012 to 2015. Previous assignments includedservice as assistant command judge advocate, 807th Medical Command (active dutymobilization) and leadership positions in numerous reserve units. Judge Fluke is a member of theState Bar of Texas.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Fluke were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Fluke decided 144 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 9, granted 0 other types of relief, and denied relief to 135. Converted to percentage terms, Fluke denied 93.8 percent and granted 6.3 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Fluke's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Fluke's denial rate of 93.8 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the New Orleans Immigration Court where Judge Fluke decided these cases denied asylum 82.8 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Fluke'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 Fluke, 22.2% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.
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 Fluke came from Honduras. Individuals from this country made up 56.9% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Fluke were: Guatemala (25.0%), Mexico (11.1%), El Salvador (4.2%), India (2.1%). 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%).