Our Mission

A staggering 65 million people worldwide have been displaced by violence or persecution. Immigration issues have roiled U.S. politics and upended the European Union. In these hot spots and beyond, policymakers have little trustworthy research to guide them, and public opinion is easily clouded by misinformation and partisanship. These challenges can seem insurmountable. But there’s no reason why immigration policy can’t benefit from the same kind of ingenuity that has brought us dramatic medical advances and game-changing technology—it’s long overdue.

That’s where the Immigration Policy Lab comes in. Using large datasets, creative research designs, and cutting-edge analytical tools, we bring new evidence to bear on the urgent problems practitioners face. By guiding the people who set public policy, as well as those who directly serve immigrant communities, our research can inspire solutions and ultimately improve countless lives.

Driving Policy Innovation

When helping our partners in government agencies and nonprofits better understand flaws in the status quo, we often are asked, “what’s next?” They need more than recommendations for small, incremental changes in the current way of operating. That’s why our work involves not just policy evaluation but also program design and experimentation.

Along the way, we’re discovering a way to increase the public impact of social science, reimagining its traditional research model to be more collaborative and responsive to real-world problems. We aim to make social science a catalyst for innovation, a force helping transform outdated programs to meet 21st-century challenges.

When it comes to immigration policy, people tend to rely on anecdotes and ideology rather than evidence. Our goal is to help them make informed decisions to improve immigrants’ lives and communities.
DUNCAN LAWRENCE Executive Director


Philanthropy is essential to our work. Gifts and grants make it possible for us to tackle ambitious projects, send research teams to new parts of the world, and deliver findings swiftly as political and humanitarian crises arise.

We are grateful for support from Stanford’s Dean of Humanities and Sciences and Dean of Research, as well as the following philanthropic partners:

  • Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Ford Foundation
  • New York Community Trust
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Robin Hood Foundation
  • Russell Sage Foundation