About the Immigration and the State Courts Strategic Initiative

State courts across the nation are being challenged by the size, diversity, and complexity of the expanding populations of both legal permanent residents and undocumented immigrants the courts must serve. As a result, fundamental notions of justice – including values of equal access to the courts, equal and consistent justice for court users, and the independence of the judiciary, are being severely tested.  

In May 2008, the State Justice Institute, in partnership with the Center for Public Policy Studies, launched a multi-year strategic initiative to assist state courts in addressing the impacts of immigration. To date, The Immigration and the State Courts Initiative has focused on four strategic priorities:

  • increasing understanding and awareness about the impacts of immigration on the state courts;
  • developing and testing state and local approaches for assessing and addressing the impact of immigration on the state courts;
  • enhancing state and local court capacity to improve court services affected by immigration; and
  • building effective national, state, and local partnerships for addressing the impact of immigration on the state courts. 

Six types of activities have been undertaken to address these four strategic priorities.

First, we are identifying the major challenges and opportunities state courts need to address when dealing with immigrants in the courts and establishing a web-based resource network. 

Second, we are working with nine diverse court jurisdictions to learn first hand what challenges they face in addressing the needs of immigrant populations that use the courts and how to best address those challenges

Third, we have prepared separate electronic, interactive bench guides for assisting judges across the nation address the practical implications of state court criminal case processing involving immigrants, and a second bench guide addressing the nexus of federal immigration status and family, juvenile, and dependency case processing

Fourth, we are preparing an interactive electronic Guidebook for Addressing the Impacts of Immigration in the State Courts that can be used in courts across the nation.

Fifth, we are developing and conducting courses for judges and court personnel for addressing the impacts of immigration on the state courts and establishing and coordinating a nation-wide training network.

Sixth, we are helping to establish and facilitate an on-going federal/state dialog to promote better collaboration between federal and state courts and justice organizations when addressing immigration issues that impact the state courts.  


The current team for the CPPS Immigration and the State Courts Initiative are John Martin, Steven Weller, David Price, Angela Lederach, and Jeffrey Yoder. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions. 





Immigration and the State Courts Assessment

Pew Hispanic Center l Research and Publications
Immigration News l ICE
Immigration l Brookings Institute
Center for Public Policy Studies, 2010 | Legal / Privacy Policy