León Rodríguez

Former Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs
Research Interests Bureaucracy, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Displacement & Borders, Law Enforcement & Policing, State & Municipal Policy, Urban Policies & Politics
Areas of Interest Immigration Policy, Refugee/Refugee Resettlement, Health Care Civil Rights, Municipal Government, Criminal Justice and Policing


León Rodríguez served under appointment for former President Obama as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") from 2014 to 2017. In that position, León directed the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy and other elements of President Obama's 2014 Executive Actions on Immigration Actions. León also oversaw USCIS' refugee processing during the period of large-scale admission from Syria, Iraq and Somalia. Currently, León is a partner in the Washington, DC office of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP. He also serves on the board of HIAS, Inc., a refugee resettlement organization, and is chairs of its External Affairs Committee. In addition to his service at USCIS, León has served in various other government positions including as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U,S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2011 to 2014. León graduated with a B.A. from Brown and a law degree from Boston College Law School.


As a senior fellow at the Watson Institute, Leon looks forward to conducting research on humanitarian components of national immigration systems and on the evolving concept of national borders.


Recent News

This fall the Watson Institute hosted a unique study group in collaboration with Brown's Undocumented, First-Generation College, and Low-Income Student Center (U-FLi). The study group, which was open to all students, focused on skill-building and leadership development for first-generation, low-income and undocumented students.
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A new Watson Institute initiative will provide Brown Masters of Public Affairs students and International and Public Affairs concentrators with additional opportunities to make valuable connections and receive career advice from distinguished Watson senior fellows.
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The fall of 2023 will bring renowned human rights lawyer Malika Saada Saar and former U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin to the Watson Institute as senior fellows who will lead student study groups, along with an array of practitioners who will focus on issues relevant to first-generation and low-income college students.
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News from Watson

Spring 2023 practitioner-led study groups

These not-for-credit study groups provide an opportunity for students to delve deeply into topics and apply theory and research to real world challenges. Enrollment in each group is limited to 25 students. 
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