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Thousands of people in Michigan face imprisonment, deportation, and family separation without the benefit of a lawyer each year.  


Even against a backdrop of dramatically unequal access to justice for defendants in criminal courts, the field of immigration law stands out. 


Immigrant Justice Lab (IJL) is a collaborative public humanities project at the University of Michigan, with growing ties to other campuses and communities.


We partner with institutions, non-profit agencies, and impacted communities to advocate for the rights of immigrants. We also help to train the next generation of advocates and researchers.


IJL Alum Named 2024 Rhodes Scholar

Immigrant Justice Lab Alum Emmanuel Orozsco Castellanos was named a 2024 Rhodes Scholar.  

Guides to Defending Yourself in Immigration Court


Utilize these guides to help you or someone you know to defend themselves in Immigration Court.

Asylum Project


The IJL offers a seminar that engages law students and undergraduate students in collaborative research and legal advocacy in support of asylum claims.

Community Partnership

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center 


Our lead community partner is the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC). With four offices in the state, MIRC engages in advocacy, education, and impact litigation while also providing pro bono legal services to individual clients in naturalization and citizenship matters.

MIRC has teams dedicated to advocacy and direct legal services in the areas of domestic violence, unaccompanied minors, and immigrant worker rights. MIRC also fields calls from a hotline from each of the jails in Michigan where the government imprisons people while they await immigration decisions, and staffs a help-desk for pro se respondents at the Detroit Immigration Court.

Campus Partnership

Carceral State Project


Our lead campus partner is the Carceral State Project (CSP), an interdisciplinary collaboration designed to bring impacted communities and advocacy organizations together with researchers from the University of Michigan.

The mission of the CSP is to document and challenge the historical and contemporary processes of criminalization, policing, incarceration, immigrant detention, and other forms of carceral control in the state of Michigan and beyond.


Public Engagement

Provide the best possible academic work to our community partners.


Project-Based Learning


Offer opportunities for students to learn how to address social issues.


Graduate Training

Support graduate students engaging in public scholarly projects.



Work with colleagues doing similar projects on other campuses.

What We Do

Learn more about IJL’s approach to Public Engagement in the Humanities.

Latest Publications

Helping the Tired, the Poor, the Huddled Masses

By Grace Argo  •  Perspectives on History  (March 10, 2022)

From DCC: Grace Argo, graduate student coordinator of the U-M Immigrant Justice Lab, published this feature in the online magazine of the American Historical Association, describing the asylum case work of student researchers in partnership with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.

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