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.

American immigration policy, even at its most restrictive and nativist times, has always maintained the importance of keeping families together.  Like the first laws regulating immigration at the turn of the 20th Century, the current immigration proposal still seeks to keep nuclear families together.  The importance of keeping families together has not changed, but what has changed in the past 100 years is the definition of family.

The question before our legislators is why not keep to the tradition of protecting families and include gay immigrants within the scope of immigration reform?

Public opinion is on the side of both immigration reform and a more progressive definition of marriage beyond that of between and man and a woman.

In 2013 a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.  This support has been steadily growing over the last couple of years–less than 20 years ago only a quarter of Americans supported gay marriage with support growing to one-third by 2000.  Moreover, we saw in the2012 election one state out right reject a ban on gay marriage and three states say “I do” to gay marriage.

And in the next couple of days we expect the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the possibility that DOMA is struck down.  If this happens, then the public support for gay marriage becomes legally buttressed.  By extension, making the case for gay immigrants even stronger.  And even if DOMA is upheld, Congress can still address the issue of marriage equality and simply include a provision for gay immigrant families.

So in theory, a provision for same-sex immigrant families could make it into the final immigration reform legislation.  In reality, there is about zero chance that will happen.  The reason for that, in one word – Evangelicals. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Barack Obama is untouchable, at least in the Latino electorate. Two recent polls show his support among Latinos ranging from 70-80 percent. However, these polls took place before the President stated that his views on gay marriage had evolved to where he now supports gay marriage. And if the Republicans have it right, then the deep social conservatism of Latinos will be the undoing of the president.

Latinos are a religious bunch and overwhelmingly Catholic. Close to two-thirds of Latinos state that religion provides quite a bit, to a great deal of guidance in their day-to-day living. And for a majority of Latinos this guidance is attained through regular attendance at religious services – not just the occasional wedding, funeral, or baptism! It is this level of religiosity that has led Republicans to await a great Latino migration into the socially conservative promise land of the GOP. And today, this belief translates into a glimmer of hope for Romney that the mostly Catholic Latino electorate will unfriend the gay-friendly president and like Romney.

There is no doubt that Latinos are religiously devout. But, the real question is what does that have to do with politics? The answer is, very little. According to a recent impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll 63 percent of Latino voters strongly disagree with religious leaders telling members which candidate to vote for. The distaste for mixing politics and religion is actually higher among Latinos than the general electorate. In the Latino electorate the view that politics is about moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion is in the micro-minority, fourteen percent.


This Op-Ed was originally published in USA Today

One of the Newt Gingrich campaign’s top 10 reasons for why Latinos should support him for president is that “he shares our conservative values.” Republican reasoning often goes like this: While the majority of Latinos do not agree with the GOP on fiscal or immigration matters, at least their faith and social conservatism will make them Republican-friendly.

The GOP, however, shouldn’t hold its breath. The idea that Latinos are social conservatives akin to white evangelicals is simply off-base. A recent poll by impreMedia and Latino Decisions of 500 registered Latino voters late last year found that religious beliefs would not have an impact on the vote of 53% of Latinos, while 17% indicate that it will have a little impact.

Latinos are not significantly more conservative than non-Latinos. In fact, when it comes to gay marriage, a November Univision-Latino Decisions poll found Latinos are more progressive that non-Latinos. Though 43% of Latino voters supported gay marriage, only 35% of general voters did. (more…)