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Jill E. Family

Commonwealth Professor of Law and Government
Director, Law and Government Institute

SSRN Papers
Bepress SelectedWorks
Curriculum Vitae

Phone: 717.541.3911

“As Director of the Law and Government Institute, I have many opportunities to connect students with alumni who share an interest in government law. It is wonderful to help a student develop an interest in a rewarding field, and the dedication of our alumni makes me so proud.” 

Jill E. Family is an internationally-known expert in immigration law. Her scholarship focuses on the procedures used to adjudicate immigration issues.  She brings her expertise into the classroom in courses on civil procedure, administrative law, and immigration law.

Professor Family’s scholarship draws on administrative law and constitutional law, as well as comparative study of procedures in other countries. She has studied extensively the U.S. immigration court system, immigration agency policymaking, the role of the federal courts in immigration law, and the relationships between the three branches of government in setting, implementing, and interpreting immigration law. She has published in British and Spanish law journals, in addition to many leading U.S. law reviews.  Her expertise played a prominent role in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee,  Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, when she testified about the administrative law implications of President Obama's immigration proposals.

As the director of the Law and Government Institute at Widener, Professor Family works with students, government officials, legislators, judges, attorneys, and the public to explore legislation, the intersection of law and policy, and the work of administrative agencies.

During the spring of 2012, Professor Family was a visiting scholar at Queen Mary School of Law in London. She received the 2011 Douglas E. Ray Excellence in Faculty Scholarship Award, and the National Administrative Law Judiciary Foundation selected Professor Family as its 2010 Fellow. Her article “Administrative Law through the Lens of Immigration Law” was selected for reprinting in an anthology of immigration law scholarship. Professor Family served as a member of the governing council of the American Bar Association’s Section on Administrative Law, and she is a Fellow of the American Bar Association’s American Bar Foundation.

  • Administrative Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Immigration Law
  • Introduction to Immigration Law Practice

Selected Publications

  • What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Immigration Law (contributing ed., ABA, 2014).
  • The Executive Power of Process in Immigration Law, 91 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 59 (2016).
  • The Procedural Fortress of US Immigration Law, 3 Birkbeck L. Rev. (2015).
  • DAPA and the Future of Immigration Law as Administrative Law, 55 Washburn L. J. 89 (2015).
  • Removing the Distraction of Delay, 64 Catholic L. Rev. 99 (2014).
  • Easing the Guidance Document Dilemma Agency by Agency: Immigration Law and Not Really Binding Rules, 47 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 1 (2013).
  • Administrative Law Through the Lens of Immigration Law, 64 Admin. L. Rev. 565 (2012).
  • Murky Immigration Law and the Challenges Facing Immigration Removal and Benefits Adjudication, 31 J. Nat’l Ass’n Admin. L. Judiciary 45 (2011).
  • A Broader View of the U.S. Immigration Adjudication Problem, 25 J. Immigr. Asylum & Nationality L. 245 (2011) (U.K.).
  • Beyond Decisional Independence: Uncovering Contributors to the Immigration Adjudication Crisis, 59 U. Kan. L. Rev. 541 (2011).
  • Senyals contradictoris: entendre la reforma de la   immigració mitjançant l’evolució de la legislació sobre immigració dels Estats Units d'Amèrica [Conflicting Signals:  Understanding U.S. Immigration Reform Through the Evolution of U.S.  Immigration Law] 40 Rev.  Catalana de Dret Pub. [Catalan J. Pub. L.] 145 (2010) (Spain).
  • A Broader View of the Immigration Adjudication Problem, 23 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 595 (2009).
  • Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action, 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol’y 71 (2008).
  • Stripping Judicial Review During Immigration Reform: The Certificate of Reviewability, 8 Nev. L.J. 499 (2008).
  • An Unexceptional Aspect of President Obama's Immigration Executive Actions, JURIST-Academic Commentary, Jan.15, 2015,
  • Local Prosecutors as Immigration Gatekeepers, JOTWELL (Jan. 8, 2014),
  • Opinion analysis: Deferring to (even more) limited relief from removal, SCOTUSblog (May 24, 2012),
  • Argument recap: Imputing eligibility for relief from removal, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 20, 2012),
  • Argument preview: Calculating Relief from Removal, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 13, 2012),
  • Essay, Becoming an Immigration Lawyer, in Careers in Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice (James T. O’Reilly ed., 2010).
  • Pro Bono in Action: An Immigrant’s Need for Representation, Bus. L. Today, Jan.–Feb. 2010, at 42.
  • Developments in the Immigration Courts, in Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice 2007-2008, 284 (Jeffrey S. Lubbers ed.,  A.B.A. Sec. Admin. L. & Reg. Prac. 2009).


BA, University of Pennsylvania, cum laude
MS, Rutgers University
JD, Rutgers University School of Law - Camden, with high honors


Law Clerk, Judge Morton I. Greenberg, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Attorney, Dechert LLP, Philadelphia Pa
Law Clerk, Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky, United States District Court for the  District of New Jersey
Adjunct Professor, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Bar Admissions

New Jersey

  1. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  2. S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  3. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania


American Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Dauphin County Bar Association
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Board Member, Pennsylvania Women’s Forum

Media Coverage

Notice & Comment
Jill Family was a guest blogger on 3/15/17
Due Process waivers in immigration law

CBS 21
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 3/6/17
100 Voices| Local lawyer weighs in on new travel ban

CBS 21
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 3/1/17
Law professor discusses Trump's talk of immigration in speech to Congress

Notice and Comment
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 2/21/17
Due Process Sleight of Hand 

CBS 21
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 2/21/17
Aggressive approach predicted for handling of immigrants

Notice and Comment
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 2/14/17
Disrupting Immigration Sovereignty

CBS 21
Jill Family was interviewed on 2/13/17
100 Voices Law professor breaks down status of Trump's travel ban

Notice and Comment
Jill Family wrote a guest post on 1/29/17
Draining Due Process

Jill Family provided expert commentary on 1/29/17
Immigration expert discusses president's executive orders

Jill Family provided expert commentary on 11/19/16
The next US attorney general has already written a handbook on how the US should deal with immigration

Jill Family’s op-ed was published on 5/3/16
Here’s what’s really at stake in Texas’ challenge to Obama’s immigration policies

Rotunda Ramblings Podcast
Jill Family was interviewed on 4/22/16
Pennsylvania Legislative Services

Jill Family provided expert commentary on 1/19/16
Midstate law professor on SCOTUS immigration

Pittsburgh Tribute-Review
Jill Family provided expert commentary on 10/31/15
Pennsylvania Supreme Court election will change course of history

Jill Family, expert commentary was featured
Segment on Key Capitol Hill Hearings aired 9/1/15 (No link available)

Jill Family, was quoted on 6/19/15
Immigration Procedure Used to Block Individual Rights, Says Researcher

Dallas Morning News
Jill Family, quoted on 3/19/15.
Cruz uses hearing to deride Obama’s ‘executive amnesty’ 

An Unexceptional Aspect of President Obama’s Immigration Actions, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 6, 2015.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Jill Family, quoted on 11/23/14
Immigration order: Happiness for some, for others heartbreak

WITF-FM Radio Smart Talk
Jill Family, interviewed on 11/20/14
Smart Talk: Obama's immigration move; Fire prevention


An Unexceptional Aspect of President Obama’s Immigration Actions, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 6, 2015.

Executive Power in Immigration Law, Homeland Security Law Institute, Washington, D.C., August 22, 2014.

Removing the Distraction of Delay, Immigration Law Professors’ Workshop, University of California, Irvine School of Law, Irvine, California, May 23, 2014.

Immigration Sovereignty and Immigration Adjudication, Migration & Law Network, Birkbeck College School of Law, London, England, March 28, 2014.

Peeling Back Delay:  Sovereignty and Restrictions on Immigration Judicial Review, Rutgers University School of Law- Camden, Camden, New Jersey, February 17, 2014.

Moderator, Innovations and Challenges in Immigration Benefits Adjudication:  Legislation, Policy and Operations, Homeland Security Law Institute, Washington, D.C., June 20, 2013.

Discussion Leader, Emerging Immigration Law Scholars and Teachers Conference, Irvine, CA, June 13, 2013 (commented on two papers:  Ming Chen, Doctrines of Deference Doing the Job in Immigrants' Workers Compensation Claims and Alina Das, Unshackling Habeas Review: Chevron Deference in Immigration Detention Cases).

Panelist, Judicial Review and the Legal Requirement of Discretion in Adjudications of Immigration Applications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman’s 2012 Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., October 18, 2012.

Immigration Law and Administrative Law, University of Arizona School of Law, Tucson, Arizona, September 21, 2012.

Guiding Guidance:  A Blueprint for Immigration Law, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York, September 6, 2012.

Review of Immigration Cases in the United States and the United Kingdom, Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), Ministry of Justice, London, United Kingdom, May 21, 2012.

Immigration Law in the Mainstream:  Guidance Documents and Benefits Adjudication, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C., February 17, 2012.


March 19, 2015.  Senate Judiciary’s Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts subcommittee chaired by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Professor Family was one of three experts who discussed the immigration policy President Obama announced recently that would have provided temporary relief from deportation for some undocumented immigrants – and the ensuing court challenge that resulted in a federal judge blocking the new policy last month. 


@widenerLG (Law and Government Institute on twitter)

Jotwell (Founding editor of Immigration Law section)

faculty directory a-d e-k l-p q-z