Draconian Anti-Immigrant Judge Comes To New York

May 4th, 2018

Judge Wilson threatens dozens of asylum cases w/a 97.8% denial rate

NEW YORK, NY - On Monday, April 30th, notoriously punitive immigration Judge Earle B. Wilson from Atlanta, Georgia began hearing cases in New York City, threatening potential outcomes of dozens of asylum cases. The Department of Justice detailed Judge Wilson as part of a rotation of visiting judges taking over the dockets of immigration judges who have recently retired from the New York bench.

The Atlanta Center of Excellence Innovation Law Lab has been monitoring Judge Wilson’s cases and behavior in the courts for several years. Their report finds that from 2012 to 2017 Judge Wilson issued the third highest number of asylum denials in the country—over 1,000—putting him at a denial rate of of 97.8%, compared to the national average of 52%. Overall, 89% of immigration cases in Atlanta end in deportation, compared to 24% in New York City.

From 2012 through 2017, Judge Wilson decided 1,114 asylum cases in Georgia. Of these cases, he granted 25, gave 0 conditional grants, and denied 1,089.

“Judge Wilson’s draconian track record of denying asylum cases is wildly out of step with our New York. He has callously denied almost 100% of the cases before him, the majority of which involve women and children seeking safety from personal and sexual violence. We can not, and will not sit quietly by while he undermines our values and the integrity of the justice system,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

"Judge Earle B. Wilson has terrorized Atlanta’s immigrant communities of color. His de facto policy of ‘no asylum’ has sent hundreds of bona fide refugees back to the places they have sacrificed everything to escape, where they will almost assuredly face further harm and death. His tenure at the Atlanta Immigration Court can be characterized by a blatant disregard for the rule of law. He has used his position to belittle survivors of violence and issue decisions based on his personal biases rather than the law. There is no question that he is unfit to adjudicate asylum cases and should resign,” said Ariel Prado, Atlanta Center Of Excellence Program Manager for Innovation Law Lab.


When it comes to asylum cases regarding women, Judge Wilson has repeatedly mis-applied the law and argued that fleeing from sexual violence cannot be considered as a valid claim for asylum, even when the victims show proof that they were raped, molested, or otherwise sexually assaulted, often by their own family members. In an example of his twisted logic, Judge Wilson found in one case that a woman, who had managed to travel to the United States to escape her abusive husband, had shown she has the ability to leave her abuser and therefore did not require the protection of our asylum laws.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2017, observers in Judge Earle Wilson’s courtroom reported that during hearings he routinely displayed unprofessional behavior, including preventing attorneys from presenting their cases, belittling or diminishing the fears asylum seekers were expressing to him, and manifesting through physical behavior his disinterest in the testimony being given. In one instance, he leaned back in his chair, placed his head in his hands and closed his eyes, holding this nap-like position for over 20 minutes while a woman seeking asylum described the murders of her parents and siblings.

Before 2008, Judge Earle Wilson worked in Miami, where he denied 88.1% of asylum requests — 9.8 percentage points higher than the local average. He then moved to Orlando in 2008, where his denial rate was 80.3% — 29.2 percentage points higher than peers.