Cristina Rodríguez

Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law

J.D., Yale Law School, 2000

M.Litt., University of Oxford, 1998

B.A., Yale University, 1995

Courses Taught
  • Administrative Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Immigration Law

Cristina M. Rodríguez is the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her fields of research and teaching include constitutional law and theory, immigration law and policy, administrative law and process, and citizenship theory. In 2021, she was appointed by President Biden to co-chair the Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. Her recent writings include the 2020 Foreword to the Harvard Law Review, “Regime Change,” and the book, The President and Immigration Law, co-authored with Adam Cox and published by Oxford University Press in September 2020. In recent years, her work has focused on the relationships between administrative and executive governance and democratic politics and decisionmaking. She has turned to immigration law and related areas as vehicles through which to explore how the allocation and exercise of power (through federalism, the separation of powers, and the structure of the bureaucracy) shapes the management and resolution of legal and political conflict. Her work also has examined the effects of immigration on society and culture, as well as the legal and political strategies societies adopt to absorb immigrant populations. Rodríguez joined Yale Law School in 2013 after serving for two years as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. She was on the faculty at the New York University School of Law from 2004–2012 and has been Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia Law Schools. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute, a trustee and non-resident fellow of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., and a past member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Yale and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where she received a Master of Letters in Modern History. Following law school, Rodríguez clerked for Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.


Books and Book Chapters

THE PRESIDENT AND IMMIGRATION LAW (with Adam B. Cox) (Oxford University Press, September 2020)

RACIAL JUSTICE AND LAW (Foundation Press) (1st ed. 2016) (with R. Richard Banks, Guy-Uriel Charles, and Kim Forde-Mazrui),

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE LAW & POLICY (with Stephen H. Legomsky) (Foundation Press 6th ed. 2015) (5th ed. 2009) (Supplements 2011 & 2013).

Language Rights and Migration, in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GLOBAL HUMAN MIGRATION (Oxford University Press 2013)

Immigration and the Civil Rights Paradigm, in THE NEW BLACK: WHAT HAS CHANGED, AND WHAT HAS NOT, WITH RACE IN AMERICA (Guy-Uriel Charles & Ken Mack, eds., New Press 2013)

The Integrated Regime of Immigration Regulation, in WRITING IMMIGRATION: SCHOLARS AND JOURNALISTS IN DIALOGUE (Roberto Suro & Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, eds., University of California Press 2011)

The Constitutional Status of Irregular Migrants: Testing the Boundaries of Human Rights Protection in Spain and the United States, in ARE HUMAN RIGHTS FOR MIGRANTS? (Marie Dembour & Tobias Kelley, eds., Routledge 2011) (with Ruth Rubio-Marín)

Legal Limits on Immigration Federalism, in TAKING LOCAL CONTROL: IMMIGRATION POLICY ACTIVISM IN U.S. CITIES AND STATES (Monica Varsanyi, ed., Stanford University Press 2010) (with Muzaffar Chishti & Kimberly Nortman)


Articles & Essays

The Supreme Court, 2020 Term—Foreword: Regime Change, 135 HARV. L. REV. 1 (2021)

Reading Regents and the Political Significance of Law, 2019 SUP. CT. REV. (2021)

Closing the Nation’s Doors, 60 Democracy: A Journal of Ideas (October 2020) (Symposium issue: Trump v. Democracy)

Trump v. Hawaii and the Future of Presidential Power and Immigration Law, ACS Supreme Court Review 2017–2018

Enforcement, Integration, and the Future of Immigration Federalism, 5 J. of Migration and Human Security 509 (2017)

Regulatory Pluralism and the Interests of Migrants, Immigration, Emigration, and Migration: NOMOS LVII (2017),

The President and Immigration Law Redux, 125 Yale L.J. 104 (2015) (with Adam B. Cox)

Complexity As Constraint, 115 Colum. L Rev. Sidebar 179 (2015) (a review of Jon Michaels, An Enduring, Evolving Separation of Powers, 115 COLUM. L. REV. 515 (2015))

Toward Detente in Immigration Federalism, 30 Virginia J. of Law & Politics 505 (2015) (symposium issue: The Future of Immigration Enforcement (in honor of retirement of David Martin))

Negotiating Conflict Through Federalism: Institutional and Popular Perspectives, 123 YALE L. J. 2094 (2014)

Legal Frameworks Affecting Immigrant Integration: Federal Baselines and Local Variation (working paper commissioned by National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Integration of Immigrants in U.S. Society) (October 2014) (utilized and excerpted in: The Integration of Immigrants into American Society (NAS Committee Report 2015)

Law and Borders, Democracy Journal (summer 2014)

Uniformity and Integrity in Immigration Law: Lessons from the Decisions of Justice (and Judge) Sotomayor, YALE L. J. FORUM (March 15, 2014).

Immigration, Civil Rights, and the Formation of the People, 142 DAEDELUS (2013)

Constraint through Delegation: The Case of Executive Control over Immigration Policy, 59 DUKE L.J. 1787 (2010) (reprinted in Immigration and Nationality Law Review (2012))

Non-citizen Voting and the Extra-constitutional Construction of the Polity, 8 I * CON, The International Journal of Constitutional Law 30 (2010)

Immigration and the Civil Rights Agenda, 6 STAN. J. C.R.-C.L. 123 (2010) (symposium issue: civil rights and the Obama administration) (reprinted in THE NEW BLACK: WHAT HAS CHANGED, AND WHAT HAS NOT, WITH RACE IN AMERICA (Guy-Uriel Charles & Ken Mack, eds., New Press 2013))

Transnational Regulation of Migration, 110 COLUM. L. REV. SIDEBAR 1 (2010) (reprinted in Migration, Human Rights and Development: A Global Anthology, Anne T. Gallagher, ed. (2013))

The President and Immigration Law, 119 YALE L. J. 458 (2009) (with Adam B. Cox)

The Citizenship Clause, Original Meaning, and the Egalitarian Unity of the Fourteenth Amendment, 11 UNIV. PENN. J. OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 1363 (2009) (symposium issue: originalism and the Reconstruction Amendments)

A Review of Peter Spiro, Beyond Citizenship: American Identity after Globalization, 103 AMERICAN J. OF INT’L L. 180 (2009)

Discrete and Insular No More, 12 HARV. LAT. LATINO REV. 41 (2009) (symposium issue in honor of the publication of Latinos and the Law (Delgado, Perea, Stefancic, eds.))

The Significance of the Local in Immigration Regulation, 106 MICH. L. REV. 567 (2008)

The Citizenship Paradox in a Transnational Age, 106 MICH. L. REV. 1111 (2008) (a review of Hiroshi Motomura, AMERICANS IN WAITING: THE LOST STORY OF IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES, Oxford University Press (2006))

From Litigation, Legislation, 117 YALE L.J. 1132 (2008) (a review of Brian Landsberg, FREE AT LAST TO VOTE: THE ALABAMA ORIGINS OF THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT, University Press of Kansas (2007))

Against Individualized Consideration, 83 IND. L. J. 1405 (2008) (symposium issue: Latino/as at the Epicenter of Legal Discourse)

Latinos and Immigrants, 11 HARV. LATINO L. REV. 247 (2008) (symposium issue: Latino Civic Participation)

Guest Workers and Integration: Toward a Theory of What Immigrants and Americans Owe One Another, 2007 UNIV. OF CHI. LEGAL FORUM 219

E Pluribus Unum: How bilingualism strengthens American democracy, DEMOCRACY: A JOURNAL OF IDEAS (2007)

Language Diversity in the Workplace, 100 NORTHWESTERN UNIV. L. REV. 1689 (2006)

Language and Participation, 94 CAL. L. REV. 687 (2006)

Accommodating Linguistic Difference: Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Language Rights in the United States, 36 HARV. C.R.-C.L. L. REV. 133 (2001)

Clearing the Smoke-Filled Room: Women Jurors and the Disruption of an Old-Boys’ Network in Nineteenth- Century America, 108 YALE L.J. 1805 (1999)

Select News Media, Blog Posts, and Policy Papers

The Radical Supreme Court Travel Ban Opinion, Just Security (June 27, 2018) (with Adam Cox & Ryan Goodman)

A Primer on the DACA Rescission, Balkinization (October 5, 2017) (with Adam Cox & Marty Lederman)

Trump and Sessions Can’t Blame Constitution for their Cruel DACA Decision, Newsweek (Sept. 6, 2017) (with Adam B. Cox) (originally posted on Just Security blog)

DHS memos build a wall around the U.S. without laying a brick (February 21, 2017)

Trump and the Immigration Bureaucracy, Just Security (February 9, 2017)

Frameworks for Immigration Reform, in What’s the Big Idea? Recommendations for Improving Law & Society in the Next Administration (American Constitution Society, October 2016)

Co-convener (with Adam B. Cox) of Symposium on Administrative Reform of Immigration Law, Balkinization (November 26, 2014)

Symposium Introduction (with Adam Cox)

Executive Discretion and Congressional Priorities (with Adam Cox)

Concluding Thoughts: Line Drawing, the Separation of Powers, and the Responsibilities of the Political Branches (with Adam Cox)

It’s OK That Congress Won’t Fix Immigration: States Can Do A Lot on Their Own, Washington Post (Post Everything) (June 30, 2014)

Negotiating Conflict through Federalism, Balkinization (April 2014)

Delegation and Divergence: A Study of the 287(g) Program and State and Local Immigration Enforcement, Migration Policy Institute Paper (2011) (with R. Capps, M. Rosenblum, M. Chishti)

Fourteenth Amendment is Key to American Experiment, (August 17, 2010) (critiquing proposals to deny birthright citizenship to children of unauthorized immigrants)

A Program in Flux: New Priorities and Implementation Challenges for 287(g), Migration Policy Institute Paper (2010) (with M. Chishti, R. Capps, L. St. John)

Regulating Immigration at the State Level: Highlights from the Database of 2007 Immigration Legislation and Methodology, Migration Policy Institute Paper (2008) (with L. Laglagaron, A. Silver, S. Thanasombat)

Testing the Limits: A Framework for Assessing the Legality of State and Local Immigration Measures, Migration Policy Institute Paper (2007) (with M. Chishti & K. Nortman)