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 first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Arizona is synonymous with immigration drama. There was SB 1070 in 2010 and the infamous antics of the convicted former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. So when President Trump arrived at the Phoenix convention center for his rally, it was a safe bet he’d serve up some immigration red meat.

There was immigration red meat, but unlike other rallies Trump has held in Arizona it wasn’t the main course. Let’s say immigration was a healthy-sized side portion.

Of his 77 minute speech the majority of his time was spent bashing the media and the two home state Republican Senators, Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake. The President feels personally offended at what he believes is an unfair characterization of his Charlottesville response.

Then there’s President Trump’s personal beef with the Arizona GOP Senators. Recently Senator Jeff Flake released a book were he essentially bashes the president. Then there’s Senator McCain’s vote against repealing Obamacare. The Arizona Senators don’t like Trump and Trump doesn’t like them, a point that was resoundingly clear last night.

Beyond settling his personal scores with the media and the Arizona senators Trump did not disappoint in his immigration message. Close to a year ago Donald Trump stood in that same Phoenix convention center laying out his plan to build the border wall and restrict immigration. (more…)

This post first appeared on NBCnews.com

Arizona is the birthplace of the Trump phenomenon.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then Governor Jan Brewer, and former state senator Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, all lovingly nurtured a babe born of anti-immigrant sentiment. Now that baby is all grown up and his name is Donald Trump.

Donald Trump burst onto the political scene last summer claiming thatimmigrants were rapists, drug dealers and all around bad people. Trump doesn’t limit his discourse to immigration but the issue has become the core of his political brand.

The upcoming primary in Arizona reminds us that Trump’s immigration rhetoric isn’t coming out of the blue. The most recent incarnation of anti-immigrant rhetoric targeted at Latinos stems from the 2010 Arizona law spearheaded by the then GOP governor and legislature. Senate bill 1070 sought to do exactly what the GOP presidential frontrunner is extolling – get rid of all “the illegals.”

Arizona’s Senate bill 1070 had various parts all aimed at driving out undocumented persons. There were a number of state penalties related to federal immigration law. Then there was the “show me your papers” provision where local and state law enforcement were required to act as immigration agents if an individual was suspected of illegally being in the country.

The unintended (or intended) consequences of racial profiling are not to be missed. There was a lot going on in this anti-immigrant omnibus bill but the bottom line was that the state wanted to make the enforcement climate so unbearable that immigrants would ultimately self-deport.

Republican-led copycat bills soon followed—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah. And trailing these mega anti-immigrant bills, smaller-scale ones followed. In the wake of the Tea Party revolution anti-immigrant sentiment was red-hot.

The streak of anti-immigrant legislation started to cool in 2012 in wait of the Supreme Court’s SB 1070 decision. That summer the core components of SB1070 were struck down. However the “show me your papers” provision was upheld in that a person could be asked for resident documentation during a lawful stop.

Arizona kicked off a bold anti-immigrant rhetoric which tamped down to an inside voice after the Supreme Court decision. Today, Trump has blasted the anti-immigrant volume back up to 11.

Sheriff Arpaio and Governor Brewer are both back in the national spotlight after having endorsed Trump. And it now looks like state level anti-immigrant legislation is getting a second wind with a visible uptick of immigration bills since Trump announced his candidacy.

The resurgence of Trump’s anti-immigration platform was inevitable. Trump, just as Arizona’s SB 1070 is the result of our elected officials not passing comprehensive immigration reform. Until a holistic solution is found to our broken immigration system we will continue to see the offspring of Arizona’s SB 1070 long after Trump has come and gone.

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Arizona is a red state. The Governor and the legislature is Republican, very Republican, and the state’s congressional delegation is dominated by the GOP. Let’s just say that when I come home to visit my folks in Southern Arizona I don’t see a whole bunch of Obama 2012 stickers. Nevertheless the Obama campaign has bet big on the growing Latino population and declared “game on” in the Grand Canyon state. The President together with the Democratic National Committee is relying on a large dose of optimism, the belief that Arizona Latinos will mobilize in reaction to recent anti-immigrant policies, and that Rich Carmona’s Senate bid will energize Latinos and attract non-Latino moderates.

Winning statewide office as a Democrat in Arizona is no easy feat. However, it can be done and if someone can do it its Richard Carmona. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps, military bootstraps, to be exact. Carmona grew up poor with parents who had substance abuse problems. He dropped out of high school but then enrolled in the military where he became a combat decorated soldier having been a Green Beret and medic in the Vietnam War. Upon return from Vietnam Carmona completed college and went on to become a prestigious surgeon that in his spare time served in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Then, in 2002 under George W. Bush he was nominated and unanimously confirmed as Surgeon General.

Richard Carmona is a dream candidate, but the electoral reality of Arizona is difficult if not nightmarish from the Democratic standpoint. In the 2008 presidential election Barack Obama received the majority of the Latino vote but only 40 percent of the white vote. And in the 2010 mid-term election Senator John McCain received two-thirds of the white vote. White voters, who make up well over three-quarters of the electorate, vote Republican. What the last two elections highlight is that while Latinos may be the state’s fastest growing population, they make up fewer than one in five voters. (more…)