Judge Rafael Ortiz-Segura

    FY 2006 – 2011, Orlando Immigration Court Judge Ortiz-Segura was appointed as an Immigration Judge in January 1994.

    Prior to his appointment in Orlando in May 1997, he was an Immigration Judge in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Judge Ortiz-Segura received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976, and a Juris Doctorate in 1979, both from the University of Puerto Rico.

    From 1988 to 1994, he worked as a general attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Judge Ortiz-Segura is a member of the Puerto Rico Bar.

    Deciding Asylum Cases

    Detailed data on Judge Ortiz-Segura decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2006 through 2011 During this period, Judge Ortiz-Segura is recorded as deciding 1649 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 791, gave no conditional grants, and denied 856. Converted to percentage terms, Ortiz-Segura denied 51.9 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 48.1 percent.

    Nationwide Comparisons

    Compared to Judge Ortiz-Segura’s denial rate of 51.9 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 53.2 percent of asylum claims. In the Orlando Immigration Court where Judge Ortiz-Segura was based, judges there denied asylum 61.2 percent of the time.

    Judge Ortiz-Segura can also be ranked compared to each of the 256 individual immigration judges serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city’s immigration court. If judges were ranked from 1 to 256 – where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 256 represented the lowest – Judge Ortiz-Segura here receives a rank of 167. That is 166 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 89 denied asylum at the same rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.

    Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

    Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.

    Why You Need an Attorney

    If an asylum seeker is not represented by an immigration attorney, almost all (87%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Ortiz-Segura, 8.9% were not represented by an attorney. For the nation as a whole, about 11.1% 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.

    For Judge Ortiz-Segura, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from Haiti. Individuals from this nation made up 35.8 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Ortiz-Segura were: Colombia (24.3 %), Venezuela (14.6%), China (3.9%), Albania (3.1%). In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (23.3%), Haiti (8.4%), El Salvador (5.9%), Colombia (5.5%), Guatemala (5.3%), Indonesia (2.9%), India (2.6%), Venezuela (2.5%), Ethiopia (2.1%), Albania (2%), Honduras (2%), Mexico (2%), Guinea (1.6%).