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.

Yellow caution signs with the silhouette of a family on the run dotted the freeways of San Diego in the early 1990s.  Not your typical road sign, but one that California’s Department of Transportation posted as a result of hundreds of undocumented immigrants being hit when traversing the freeways near the border.

As evidenced by the immigrant crossing road signs, the number of immigrant crossings through the San Diego corridor ballooned in the mid 1990s.  In reaction to this spike the Clinton Administration launched Operation Gatekeeper, channeling increased funding and manpower to California’s border stretch.  But before Operation Gatekeeper there was Operation Hold the Line in El Paso that addressed the heavy immigrant crossing flow of that corridor.  And following Gatekeeper and Hold the Line, Operation Safeguard was implemented in the Tucson sector in an effort to mimic the successes of its predecessors.

Every couple of years there is a new border operation.  And each of these operations ends up successfully stemming the flow of undocumented immigration in their respective sector.  However, these successes come with unintended consequences.  As the crossings subside in one sector they shoot up in others.

In 1993 Operation Hold the Line saw a decrease in apprehensions from a quarter of a million down to just seventy thousand, but border apprehensions increased along the rest of the border.  Then when the California stretch of the border was also clamped down in 1994 by Operation Gatekeeper border apprehensions along the Arizona border skyrocketed.

Today we see yet another shift in the flow of immigrant crossings.  The highest rates of apprehension have ended up back in Texas.  Arizona’s Operation Safeguard was finally able to decrease the number of its sector’s border crossings, but with the result of pushing the flow elsewhere—back to the Lone Star state.

Much like the game of whac a mole, border enforcement pushes down the flow of crossings in one sector but then sees it pop up in another.

Targeted border enforcement operations have been successful.  But in terms of the bigger picture – decreasing the total number of illegal border crossings –  the operations haven’t really made a dent. (more…)

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