Published Oct 19, 2023
Jeb. T. Terrien was appointed as a Unit Chief Immigration Judge to begin supervisoryimmigration adjudication center duties and hearing cases in April 2021. Judge Terrien earned aBachelor of Science in 1994 from The University of Virginia and a Juris Doctor in 1997 fromTulane Law School. From 2009 to 2021, he served as a Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney andAssistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, in Harrisonburg. During that time,from 2014 to 2015, he served as an Assistant Director, National Advocacy Center, Office ofLegal Education, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Department of Justice, in Columbia,South Carolina. From 2004 to 2008, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the SouthernDistrict of Ohio, in Cincinnati, and the Northern District of West Virginia, in Martinsburg. From2000 to 2004, he served as a Regional Drug Prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Virginia inHalifax, Charlotte, and Campbell Counties. From 1999 to 2000, he served as an AssistantAttorney General with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, in Richmond. From 1998 to 1999,he served as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Accomack CountyCommonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Accomac, Virginia. Judge Terrien is a member of theVirginia State Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Terrien were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Terrien decided 234 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 65, granted 0 other types of relief, and denied relief to 169. Converted to percentage terms, Terrien denied 72.2 percent and granted 27.8 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Terrien's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Terrien's denial rate of 72.2 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Boston Immigration Court where Judge Terrien decided these cases denied asylum 49.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Terrien'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 Terrien, 0.9% 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 Terrien came from Guatemala. Individuals from this country made up 27.4% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Terrien were: El Salvador (18.8%), Honduras (12.0%), Brazil (10.3%), Ecuador (6.4%). 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%).