Published Oct 19, 2023
Carol A. Crawford was appointed as an Immigration Judge to begin hearing cases in December 2021. Judge Crawford earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1982 from Trinity College, a Master of Business Administration in 1986 from The George Washington University, and a Juris Doctor in 1992 from the University of Maryland School of Law. From 2017 to 2021, she was the Faculty Relations Investigator at American University, in the District of Columbia. From 2014 to 2017, she served as Director/Investigative Counsel with the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, in Annapolis and Linthicum. From 1997 to 2014, she served as Assistant State’s Attorney, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Team, and First Assistant State’s Attorney at the Office of the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland. From 1993 to 1997, she served as Assistant Public Defender with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, in Rockville. From 1992 to 1993, she served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Ann S. Harrington of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Maryland. Judge Crawford is a member of the Maryland State Bar.
Detailed data on decisions by Judge Crawford were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Crawford decided 223 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 195, granted 5 other types of relief, and denied relief to 23. Converted to percentage terms, Crawford denied 10.3 percent and granted 89.6 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).
Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Crawford's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Crawford's denial rate of 10.3 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the New York Immigration Court where Judge Crawford decided these cases denied asylum 34.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Judge Crawford'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 Crawford, 2.2% 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 Crawford came from China. Individuals from this country made up 32.7% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Crawford were: India (21.5%), Bangladesh (8.5%), Nepal (5.4%), Guatemala (4.0%). 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%).