Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto


Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→


Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

Politics makes for strange bedfellows and Arizona’s opposition to SB 1070 is a poster child for odd alliances – Chamber of Commerce Republicans, Mormons, and Latinos.  The reasons for their opposition to SB 1070 differs as do their visibility.  But in the end all parties feel aggrieved by SB 1070 and seek to prevent the expansion of an SB 1070 policy agenda.  More concretely, this group seeks to recall the architect of the bill, senate president Russell Pearce. 

Opposition to SB 1070 and general anti-immigrant policies by the business community is rooted in tangible economic losses. Tourism boycotts and labor shortages have dealt a serious blow to the economy of Arizona. In the past year, the tourism industry has lost an estimated $752 million.  The trickle down effect of the losses in the tourism industry are felt at every level:  4,236 lost jobs, $388 million in lost economic output, $217 million in lost direct spending by visitors, and $14.4 million in lost tax revenue.[1]

Arizona’s economic development beyond tourism is also suffering grave setbacks. Manufacturers and investors are turning away from the anti-foreigner climate in Arizona.  For example, a Chinese manufacturer decided against locating in Arizona because of SB 1070.  This plant loss represented over $1 billion over five years.[2]

Labor shortages are further crippling the Arizona economy.  The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 100,000 legal and undocumented persons have left Arizona since the signing of SB 1070.  The enforcement-only nature of SB 1070 has only exacerbated existing labor shortages in the Arizona construction and agricultural sectors.[3]

Another group that is opposed to SB 1070 is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Pearce is himself a Mormon, but the church leadership has signaled its difference of opinion with the senator from Mesa.  The expression of disapproval of anti-immigrant legislation has not called Pearce out by name, but the disapproval with Pearce and his agenda have found alternative outlets.

Citizens for a Better Arizona (the group formed to recall Pearce) is headed by a Mormon Republican, Chad Snow.  A series of immigration lectures and fireside chats by Daryl Williams bolster the recall effort.  Williams, a devout Mormon and businessman has sought to spread the word about the wrongs of Pearce-style immigration policy.  He is clear to note that he is doing this independently from his church, however he readily notes his faith and devotion to shaping his immigration policy convictions. these efforts by writing a white paper on immigration and how an anti-immigrant agenda is Also, Jerry Lewis, the first candidate to formally announce his candidacy in the recall is Mormon.  Lewis is a conservative Republican who has previously served as a Bishop within his church.

The church’s opposition to anti-immigrant legislation is also clearly encapsulated by their support of the Utah Compact.[4]  The Utah Compact, signed November 11, 2011, was developed to provide guiding principals for the discussion of immigration in that state.  No mention is made of SB 1070, but the declaration’s assertions are in opposition to the spirit and letter of SB 1070:

1.)    Immigration is a federal policy.

2.)    Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.

3.)    We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families.  We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.

4.)    Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.

5.)    Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.

The Utah compact is against SB 1070-type of legislation on economic, jurisdictional, family, and humanitarian grounds.  A statement on the LDS website emphasizes its support of the Utah Compact based on Jesus Christ’s teachings of loving our neighbor and strengthening families.[5]  The church’s opposition to anti-immigrant legislation is based on religious grounds.  Coincidentally Latinos are joining the Mormon Church more than any other group.[6]

The last group in opposition to Pearce’s anti-immigrant agenda is Latinos—those most directly affected by the legislation.  Republican and Democratic Latinos in Arizona have banded together on this issue.  Somos Republicanos is a national organization for Hispanic Republicans.  They are opposed to anti-immigrant legislation because it is not consistent with free market principals.  Democrat Latinos are opposed to the legislation primarily on human and civil rights grounds.  Latinos from both parties come at the issue from different angles, but they end up at the same point.

It sounds like the beginning of a joke – a white Republican businessmen, an LDS church leader, and a Latino immigrant activist walk into a room….Two years ago it would have well been a joke.  Today, it is not.  Meetings between these groups are not publicized gatherings, but they are taking place and forging a common front against anti-immigrant policy.

Prior to the signing of SB 1070 Latinos were the lone voice in opposition to the legislation.  Latinos could see how this legislation would affect their daily lives.  This tangibility made the cause urgent within the community.  The business community and Mormon church may have seen the negative consequences to come, but they did not voice them.  However, with time the business and Mormon community saw the negative effects of the legislation on their respective interests.  Both groups found their voice and began to speak out.

In light of the diverse interests that have come together it can appear as if the recall may actually gain traction.  The issue of immigration has generated true bi-partisan sentiments in Arizona.  At the state level these interests are very powerful, but all politics is local and the success of the recall ultimately lies with senator Pearce’s District 18.  In the second part of this series analyzing the recall of Pearce I will delve into the district level politics that act as a strong counterforce to the alliance to thwart anti-immigrant policy through a recall of Pearce.

[1] http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/11/az_tourism.html

[2] http://www.azeir.org/

[3] http://www.azeir.org/

[4] www.theutahcompact.com

[5] http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-supports-principles-of-utah-compact-on-immigration

[6] http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2009/04/02/20090402ldslatinos0402.html