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

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

I just about fell out of my chair — Governor Susana Martinez supports the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform.  This from the woman who came up on the Tea Party wave and was even endorsed by Sarah Palin?  Governor Martinez’s tough talk on immigration disintegrated in an instant when she was quoted this week in a Newsweek story scoffing at the idea of self-deportation and instead offering up the alternative of comprehensive reform.  After recovering from my initial shock it dawned on me, she is a political genius!  I now see what’s she’s up to and it just may work.

Up until last week the most immigrant-friendly stance that Governor Martinez had taken was rejecting the harsher components of Arizona’s SB 1070 law.  Within her first days in office Martinez issued an executive order that rescinded a policy prohibiting law enforcement from asking about a person’s immigration status for determining if a person was violating federal law.  Her earlier views on immigration could be summed up in one word, enforcement.

In her 2010 campaign Martinez made clear her opposition to amnesty and support for policies that would lead to self-deportation, though she never called it that.  Governor Martinez has fought to do away with driver’s licenses for undocumented persons because she believes they act as a magnet to the state.  Her rationale, like that of Romney’s, is that if the magnet is removed then the undocumented person is incentivized to leave.  Her tough stance on immigration didn’t even allow for an exception to be made for students, opposing tuition scholarships for undocumented kids. 

In hindsight, the Governor’s recent remarks on comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM act did not come out of left field.  She had planted the seed for her issue evolution close to a year ago.  On the heels of President Obama’s visit to El Paso and his speech on immigration Governor Martinez remarked that before there could be a discussion of comprehensive immigration reform the border had to be secured.  She then went on to dismiss the idea of piecemeal immigration reform and advocating for a holistic solution, in other words comprehensive immigration reform.  Her remarks are puzzling because all along a key piece of comprehensive immigration reform has been securing the border.  Nevertheless, the take home from her comments last year point to a softening of her 2010 immigration campaign rhetoric.

The GOP desperately needs a reasonable approach to immigration, one that doesn’t stand for self-deportation and acknowledges the reality of millions of undocumented persons living here.  The Republican Party cannot maintain such an extreme stance on immigration, the pressures from inside and outside are too great.  From within the party the likes of Jeb Bush and even Newt Gingrich are the voices of the many, but the silent, who know that a sensible immigration policy makes business sense.  From the electoral level, the Republican Party will not be able to survive in the medium to long-term if it keeps up its hostile rhetoric.  A grown up Republican needs to step up and stop the nonsense and Matinez is just the person.

Political suicide is what Governor Martinez’s actions have been called.  This is a silly and myopic statement.  First of all she never wanted to be considered as Romney’s number two, seriously.  Unlike other politicos when she said she wasn’t interested she meant it.  Governor Martinez is in it for the long haul and for the bigger prize, the number one slot on the Republican ticket.  She is a young and dynamic Republican leader.  More importantly, she gets it.  She gets that her party will inch its way back from the anti-immigrant extreme and as it does she will be out in front and ready to lead the GOP.