Douglas C. Ligor

Photo of Douglas Ligor
Senior Behavioral/Social Scientist
Off Site Office


J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law; B.S. in economics, United States Military Academy, West Point

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Doug Ligor is a senior behavioral/social scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research areas include: homeland and national security law, regulation and policy, particularly as they relate to immigration, border security, migration, asylum and refugee processing; space governance and international law; law enforcement; and national defense. Ligor's research interests extend to civil and criminal legislation, law, and litigation; statutory and regulatory compliance; international and customary law (including treaty-based regimes); and the organization and operational coordination of federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities

Prior to joining RAND, Ligor served as the deputy chief counsel for the Northeast Law Division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security. He also served as an assistant district counsel with the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service (later DHS/Immigration and Customs Enforcement). He represented DOJ and DHS with respect to all major aspects of U.S. immigration law, including national security issues and cases; naturalization and citizenship; lawful permanent residence; family- and employment-based immigration; asylum and refugee status; criminal and civil grounds of detention and removal; deferred action; and prosecutorial discretion. Ligor began his legal career through the Department of Commerce's Honors Attorney Program, serving as legal liaison to the Secretary of Commerce. Before joining federal service, Ligor served as an Armor officer in the U.S. Army in company and battalion staff positions. 

Ligor received his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and his B.S. in economics from the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Recent Projects

  • Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC)
  • Responsible Space Behaviors for the New Space Era: Preserving the Province of Humanity
  • Multidomain Command and Control Doctrine, Authorities, and Information Systems
  • Protecting DHS Intellectual Property
  • Assessing the Risk Mitigation Value of TWIC at Maritime Facilities

Selected Publications

Douglas C. Ligor, Neither Deportation nor Amnesty: An Alternative for the Immigration Debate Building a Bridge Across the Deportation-Amnesty Divide, RAND Corporation (PE-279-RC), 2018

Bruce McClintock, Katie Feistel, Douglas C. Ligor, Kathryn O'Connor, Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era: Preserving the Province of Humanity, RAND Corporation (PE-A887-2), 2021

Douglas C. Ligor, Bruce McClintock, "Nasty, Brutish, and Short--The Future of Space Operations in the Absence of the Rule of Law," NATO Legal Gazette, (42), 2021

Geoffrey McGovern, Maria McCollester, Douglas Ligor, et. al., The Role of Intellectual Property in U.S. Homeland Security, RAND Corporation (RR-3039), 2019

Miranda Priebe, Douglas C. Ligor, Bruce McClintock, Michael Spirtas, et. al., Multiple Dilemmas: Challenges and Options for All-Domain Command and Control, RAND Corporation (RR-A381-1), 2020

Stephanie Rennane, Beth J. Asch, Michael G. Mattock, Heather Krull, Douglas C. Ligor, Michael Dworsky, Jonas Kempf, U.S. Department of Defense Disability Compensation Under a Fitness-for-Duty Evaluation Approach, RAND (RR-A1154-1), 2022

Heather J. Williams, Kristin Van Abel, David Metz, James V. Marrone, Edward W. Chang, Katherine Costello, Ryan Bauer, Devon Hill, et. al., and Douglas C. Ligor, The Risk-Mitigation Value of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, RAND Corporation (RR-3096-DHS), 2020

Honors & Awards

  • Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center Director's Innovation Award, 2018, RAND Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center
  • Superior Performance Award (2003 to 2016), Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Training Excellence Award, 2015, Office of the Chief Counsel, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC Radio Australia; Arizona Public Media; Newstalk ZB, New Zealand; VOA


  • Illustration of astronauts on a space colony unloading boxes from a spaceship, photo by CSA-Printstock/Getty Images

    Outer Space and the Veil of Ignorance: An Alternative Way to Think About Space Regulation

    There are currently no international binding rules that would address growing threats in space. Without more-defined and enforceable rules of war regarding space and space assets, the danger of a destructive conflict in space grows significantly.

    May 9, 2022 Fast Company

  • Ukrainian service members walk on the front line near Kyiv as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 30, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Time for a U.N. Peace Enforcement Operation in Northern Ukraine?

    Now that the Russian military in Ukraine has retreated north, a de facto cease-fire is in place in Kyiv and central Ukraine. This could present an opportunity for the United Nations to call for a formal cease-fire in reclaimed territory and issue a recommendation to willing states to move into Ukraine with a peacekeeping force.

    Apr 27, 2022 Lawfare

  • Members of a militia group who were charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in the state capitol building, in Lansing, Michigan, April 30, 2020, photo by Seth Herald/Reuters

    Implications of Domestic Terrorist Group Designations for Combating Homegrown Extremism

    It is not clear that an official designation of domestic extremists as terrorists would confer additional benefits that would outweigh potential risks to U.S. civil liberties. A combined government effort that facilitates mitigation strategies to preempt violence by hate groups, while also actively stemming the flow of online disinformation, may be a good first step in reducing homegrown extremism.

    Mar 2, 2021 The Hill

  • Police officers patrol the beach after the closing of all the beaches in Miami-Dade County due to COVID-19, in Miami Beach, Florida, March 19, 2020, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    State Police Powers: A Less Than Optimal Remedy for the COVID-19 Disease

    How can the United States face what may be a growing threat of pandemics without having to exercise powers so extraordinary that they not only restrict fundamental rights and liberties, but also damage or jeopardize the economic livelihood of so many?

    May 1, 2020 United Press International

  • Immigrant children are led by staff in single file between tents at a detention facility near the Mexican border, Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Sleep Deprivation Could Do Long-Term Damage to Migrant Children

    The challenges faced by detained children at the U.S. southern border are immense. Sleep disruption may significantly hinder their ability to function physically and mentally. Policymakers shouldn't overlook the importance of providing appropriate sleeping conditions.

    Jul 22, 2019 Dallas Morning News

  • Immigration law book and gavel in a library

    Restoring Asylum Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded asylum protections earlier this month for victims of domestic violence. The decision and the supporting analysis goes against decades of research on violence against women. Congress could reverse the decision by amending the asylum law.

    Jun 25, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. Permanent Resident ID (green card) with a gavel and an American flag

    The Immigration Debate: Building a Bridge Across the Deportation-Amnesty Divide

    Discussions of U.S. immigration are dominated by arguments that pit “rule of law” proponents — focused on apprehension, detention, and deportation — against “humanitarian” supporters seeking a pardon or amnesty that will allow immigrants to stay in the country. Minor changes to the statute known as “Cancellation of Removal” could offer a compromise.

    Feb 28, 2018 The Hill