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Judge Jonathan Huang
FY 2018 - 2023, Santa Ana Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

Jonathan C. Huang was appointed as an Immigration Judge to begin hearing cases in December 2021. Judge Huang earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor in 2004 from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. In 2021, he served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Inland Office of Appeals, California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, in Rancho Cucamonga. From 2018 to 2021, he served as an Administrative Law Judge – Specialist, Los Angeles Regional Office (LARO), State Hearings Division (SHD), California Department of Social Services (CDSS). From 2014 to 2018, he served as an Administrative Law Judge, LARO, SHD, CDSS. From 2010 to 2014, he served as a Deputy Commissioner for the California Board of Parole Hearings (BPH), in Los Angeles. During that time, in 2011, he served as an Acting Associate Chief Deputy Commissioner, Region III, BPH, in Los Angeles. In 2009, he served as a Deputy Commissioner for the California BPH, in Wasco. From 2005 to 2009, he was a Panel Attorney with the California Parole Advocacy Program, in Chino. From 2004 to 2009, he was in private practice, in Santa Ana and West Covina, California. Judge Huang is a member of the State Bar of California.

Deciding Asylum Cases

Detailed data on decisions by Judge Huang were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Huang decided 110 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted asylum for 56, granted 4 other types of relief, and denied relief to 50. Converted to percentage terms, Huang denied 45.5 percent and granted 54.5 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Huang's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Huang's denial rate of 45.5 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Santa Ana Immigration Court where Judge Huang decided these cases denied asylum 43.9 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Huang'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.

Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

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 Huang, 4.5% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation


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 Huang came from China. Individuals from this country made up 18.2% of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Huang were: Mexico (13.6%), India (11.8%), Nicaragua (10.9%), Colombia (9.1%). 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%).

Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.