Deportation Research Clinic

The Deportation Research Clinic studies the misconduct of federal, state, and local agencies implementing deportation laws.

Working with a global network of U.S. residents who have been issued deportation orders, as well as with attorneys, law professors, journalists, policy-makers, and students, the Deportation Research Clinic:

  • Uncovers, investigates, and analyzes geographical and policy "hot spots" of misconduct among law enforcement agencies implementing deportation laws;
  • Works with communities in Illinois and beyond to discover and test new legal, political, and economic strategies to prevent and ameliorate the harms U.S. residents endure because of misconduct by government officials during deportation proceedings;
  • Has special expertise on the unlawful detention and deportation of U.S. citizens and the unlawful dollar-per-day wages paid to U.S. residents in custody under immigration laws.

For more on...

Paradigm and Goals

  • The Clinic pursues studies under the rubric of forensic intelligence, that is, research tied to iterations of legal knowledge and discourse for the purpose of learning from and ameliorating symptoms of injustice.  See "Forensic Intelligence and the Deportation Research Clinic: Toward a New Paradigm," Perspectives on Politics (2015), or html abstract.
  • The Clinic's research mission is rooted in public health approaches to theorizing and addressing community-level risks and interventions. 
  • "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."  -- Chief Justice Louis Brandeis, “What Publicity Can Do,” Harper’s Weekly (20 Dec 1913).   The Clinic conveys useful, timely, intelligent research on misconduct in deportation proceedings to affected communities, journalists, policy-makers, and scholars

Clinic Research and Updates

  • "One Dollar Per Day: The Slaving Wages of Immigration Jail, 1943 to Present," Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, vol. 25, issue 3, spring 2015 (published spring 2016 due to delayed journal production schedule). Special thanks to Farrell Fellow and Clinic assistant Hayley Hopkins, Northwestern 2017, for associated web pages with contract links and summaries.
  • ICE document release responsive to Clinic FOIA litigation supports Director legal analysis: previously withheld INS General Counsel memorandum in 1992 finds 8 USC § 1555 requires Congress to set rates of wages for those in custody under immigration laws, undermines private prison authority to set wages at one dollar/day. Litigation ongoing for two years.  Status hearing April 6, 2016. 
  • April 14, 2016, Deportation Research Clinic prevails in Rule 60 motion for FOIA litigation attorney fees--retired judged had denied fees without hearing, plea for reconsideration with assent of U.S. Attorney granted.  (Director obtains email from State Department officials who encounter deported U.S. citizen Mark Lyttle in Honduras and Guatemala.)
  • April 5, 2016, GEO lawsuit on track, Colorado Judge denies certification of interlocutory appeal, depositions begin!
  • June 1, 2015.  Analysis of U.S. Citizens ICE Unalwfully Detained or Banished Since January 1, 2011
    • New Release of Immigration Court Data Reveals ICE Still Systematically Detaining U.S. Citizens
    • U.S Citizen Andres Robles, Deported to Mexico, Returns, Wins Record $350,000 Settlement and Government Agreement to Expunge Records
      • Clinic FOIA Attorney Andrew Free Represents Robles, case first reported by Clinic director.
  • Clinic research assistants Ary Hansen and Elizabeth Meehan analyze immigration judge misconduct data.  Agency supervisors ignore serious complaints if not from government.  Responses take hundreds of days, and recommend "oral counseling" or no response. Professor Heather Schoenfeld, School for Education and Social Policy and Legal Studies to co-author research article with J. Stevens.
  • Clinic Research Triggers Lawsuit Challenging Unlawful Dollar-Per-Day Payments by Private Prisons to People in Custody Under Immigration Law. 
  • "Citizenship In Question: Forensic Challenges of Birth, Blood, and Bureaucracy," co-edited with Benjamin Lawrance, based on conference convened by co-editors at Boston College Law School and co-sponsored and organized with Dan KanstroomRachel Rosenbloom, and Rogers Smith.  Contributors narrate failures of signification for passports, certificates, and databases from Australia to Togo.  Introduction draws on Jacques Derrida to suggest failures of a-scription and to reveal narrative strategies that empower arbitrary authorities at the expense of the people populating the identities government creates.
  • Remembered Intimacies and the Bona Fide Marrriage, funded by the Sexualities Project at Northwestern, IRB-approved sutdy, Charles Clarke, co-principal investigator.  Study compares rate and character of non-matching answers on spousal green card interviews with rate and character of non-matching answers on "The Newlywed Game" television show.  (Premise of government interview is that non-matching answers about shared experiences reveals marriage fraud; premise of "Newlywed Game" is that bona fide couples will have non-matching answers.)
  • Long-term study of misconduct in deportation proceedings, with site visits to immigration courts and detention facilities

ICE Misconduct Affecting U.S. Citizens

For background, see  "U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and Deporting U.S. Citizens," Virginia J. of Social Policy and the Law, (2011), 115 pp.

Lorenzo Palma
July, 2015.  Stevens encounters U.S. citizen Lorenzo Palma detained in Houston for over a year, finds documents and works with Andrew Free to obtain termination order in February, 2016. Clinic assistant Hayley Hopkins transcribed oral order for Palma to submit for U.S. passport.

Roberto Dominquez

Robert's basinette tag  Roberto Dominquez was born in Lawrence, Massachussetts and thus a U.S. citzen at birth. nonetheless banished for ten years to the Dominican Republic.  In 2009 he obtained his U.S. passport and returned home.  In 2011, after Roberto filed a lawsuit for his wrongful deportation, the State Department revoked his passport.  The Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, after being approached by the Deportation Research Clinic, has been representing Roberto since September, 2013, and has gone to federal court demanding his own government recognize him as a U.S.citizen.  The photo is of his original basinette tag.  Copious additional documents tie plaintiff Roberto to the Roberto Dominguez on record as born on his birthday in the Lawrence Hospital.  The U.S. government attorney will not return phone inquiries; the government Answer conjures a world with two Roberto Dominguezes, both born in November, 1979, both with parents at the same address, but one born in Lawrence, while the Plaintiff was born in Santo Domingo, and magically acquired the documents for the Roberto Dominguez born in the USA.  For background, please go here.

Esteban Tiznado

Esteban TiznadoIn 2008 a jury found Esteban Tiznado Not Guilty of Illegal Reentry because of documents and testimony affirming his U.S. citizenship. Immediately after, ICE ignored the verdict and deported him. The Clinic obtained records under the Freedom of Information (FOIA) and revealed Citizenship and Immigration Services in 1980s hid evidence that would affirm his U.S. citizenship.  Tiznado is presently living in the United States following Ninth Circuit remand of his case, but ICE still is trying to deport him and he is unable to obtain government documents and consequent protections and rights of U.S. citizenship.  Al Jazeera documented his case in 2013.  (Photo: Esteban Tiznado, photograph by Border Patrol in Arizona desert after capture on February 23, 2011.)

Mark Lyttle

Mark LyttleUnited States citizen Mark Lyttle, deported to Mexico, collects $175,000 from settlement of lawsuit brought against the federal government. Director obtained Lyttle's file under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and brought case to the ACLU. 

Jhon Ocampo

Jhon OcampoUnited States citizen Jhon Ocampo, handcuffed at home and locked up in three Illinois deportation jails; Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ignore his own statements about his U.S. citizenship. Held until lawyer, who provides no additional paperwork, calls the deportation jail. Clinic breaks story, covered in investigative story in Illinois Times. Filed FOIA request for file, brought case to attention of National Immigrant Justice Center. UPDATE: Ocampo settles lawsuit, May, 2016 (Photo: Jhon Ocampo, Springfield, IL.)


In primary collaboration with civil rights attorney R. Andrew Free, Nashville, Tennessee.  Free's practice emphasizes government transparency and accountability.  Free handles the Clinic FOIA litigation and represents selected U.S. citizens with deportation orders who contact the Clinic, many pro bono.

Other collaborators include Northwestern Law School's Bluhm Legal Clinic and Clinical Associate Professor J. Samuel Tenenbaum; Cardozo Law School Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, Clinical Teaching Fellow Andrea Saenz; and Mark Fleming, Litigation Director, National Immigrant Justice Center

Stevens is being represented in her civil rights lawsuit against the immigration judge in Atlanta who deported Mark Lyttle, William Cassidy, and other top officials at the Executive Office of Immigration Review, by Bruce Brown and Ray Lerer.


The Deportation Research Clinic is located at 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208.

For more information and to volunteer for internship positions, or to make a donation, please contact Director Jacqueline Stevens, Professor Political Science Department, or call  (847) 467-2093. 

Jacqueline Stevens | Founding Director

Jacqueline Stevens is a professor in Northwestern's Department of Political Science and on the Legal Studies Advisory Board. She is the author of Reproducing the State (Princeton University Press, 1999), and States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals (Columbia University Press, 2009).  She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013-14 and is currently completing a work of literary non-fiction that narrates contemporary experiences of borders in conversation with the fantasies of America appearing in the accounts of the Spanish conquistadors and British explorers Miguel Cervantes parodied in Don Quijote. View her profile page on the Department of Political Science website.

Behind the Scenes | Clinic Team

Summer, 2016 Clinic Research Fellow: 
Dulce Flores, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation grant recipient, Smith College class of 2017.

FOIA Research and Analysis TeamMatthew Greene, Northwestern 2016
Hayley Hopkins, Northwestern 2017
Geordan Majewski, Northwestern 2017
Danielle Osborne, Smith 2018
Alejandra Ruiz, Smith 2017

Program Assistant: Charles Clarke is a JD/PhD candidate from Northwestern Law School and Political Science Department.  His dissertation on the concept of deportation in texts by Immanual Kant, Bentham, and Hannah Arendt.