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.

What do Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons all have in common?  And no, this is not the beginning of a joke.

The growth of all three faiths is being fueled by the Latino population.   Latinos are not just the fastest growing population but as a group they are more religious.  Latinos are the fastest growing segments of the Evangelical movement, the Catholic Church, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS).  Coincidentally, these religious groups are also supportive of a more open immigration policy.

The vocal defense of comprehensive immigration reform by the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops is neither new nor surprising.  The majority of Latinos are Catholic and the American Catholic Church has been saved from steep membership decline because of the growth of the Latino population.

The Mormon Church does not explicitly get involved in political issues, such as immigration.  However, over the last several years the Church of LDS has unofficially been advocating for a more humane and realistic approach to immigration.  The Mormon Church has doubled the size of their Spanish language congregations in the last decade and continues to expand throughout Latin America.

The newcomer to the pro-immigration camp today is the Evangelical movement.  Evangelical leaders are taking a grass-roots mobilizing approach in spreading the word to their faithful through the pulpit and media outreach.  At the same time, Evangelical leaders are sending Republican elected officials the signal that it’s OK to move away from a hardline enforcement only stance on immigration.

This explicit support for immigration is so interesting because Evangelicals (like Mormons) overwhelmingly identify with the Republican Party.  So in the last several weeks we have seen a group of people traditionally associated with restrictionist immigration policy shift to supporting a more open immigration reform policy. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

There’s a saying in Spanish, es de sabios cambiar de opinión.  Roughly translated, “it is of wise people to change their minds.”

According to this dicho Senator Marco Rubio is wise.  On the issue of immigration he has evolved from opposing to supporting immigration reform that includes a citizenship option.  For immigration advocates this is indeed a wise issue evolution.  From a larger political view it is also refreshing to see a politico buck the trend of partisan inflexibility.

However being wise doesn’t necessarily translate into being politically practical.  Senator Rubio’s recent change in position puts him in a corner–he will not get the base of his party to join him and his immigration advocacy will never be as good as that of the Democrats.

In less than three years Senator Marco Rubio has gone from a locally known Florida state legislator to a presidential contender.  It may not seem it now, but Rubio was a Tea Party baby whose meteoric rise is owed to the likes of Sarah Palin and Senator Jim DeMint.

Not that long ago Senator Rubio eschewed talking about immigration.  When pressed on the issue he would state his firm objection to the citizenship option and reiterate the line about immigration reform coming only after a strengthening of the border.

Today we not only see Rubio having changed his position on immigration we see him as the GOP face of immigration reform.  Gone are the days of immigration dodge ball for the Florida Senator.  As a Washington Post editorial noted this weekend Rubio has stepped it up on immigration – a very good thing if you are one of the millions of undocumented persons or if you’re looking to broaden your electoral base, say for a national run in 2016…. (more…)