Published Oct 19, 2023
Romaine L. White was appointed as an Immigration Judge to begin hearing cases in July 2021.Judge White earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1983 from the University of Virginia and a JurisDoctor in 1986 from the University of Georgia School of Law. From 2012 to 2021, she served asan Administrative Law Judge for the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law, in New Orleans.From 2004 to 2021, and previously from 1999 to 2001, she was a sole practitioner with the LawOffice of Romaine L. White LLC, in Houma, Louisiana. From 2001 to 2006, she served as anAssistant Parish Attorney for the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, in Houma. From2001 to 2004, she was an Associate Attorney with McNabb and Associates, in Houma. From1997 to 1998, she served as Deputy General Counsel for the State Bar of Georgia, in Atlanta.From 1991 to 1997, she served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City of Atlanta. From1986 to 1991, she was an Associate Attorney with Griffin, Cochrane, & Marshall, in Atlanta.Judge White is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Louisiana State 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 224 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 19, granted 1 other types of relief, and denied relief to 204. Converted to percentage terms, White denied 91.1 percent and granted 8.9 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 91.1 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Houston - Greenspoint Immigration Court where Judge White decided these cases denied asylum 87.4 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, 1.3% 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 Honduras. Individuals from this country made up 37.9% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge White were: El Salvador (28.1%), Guatemala (11.2%), Mexico (7.6%), Venezuela (5.4%). 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%).