Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

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→

Research

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 article originally appeared in NBCLatino

Today immigration has become the most visible tie that binds Latinos and Mormons.  The Church of Latter-day Saints and many of its prominent members have been at the forefront of promoting sensible and humane immigration policies.

However, the linkage between the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and Latinos is far deeper than a common policy interest.  There is a theological linkage between the two that stretches back to the founding of the Mormon Church.  In other words, for Mitt Romney the linkage between his faith and Latinos is much more nuanced than that of his father being born in Chihuahua.

Latin America has the highest growth of Mormons in the world.  In Mexico there are over one million members and a total of 12 temples.  There are Mormons and accompanying religious structures throughout Latin America with the exception of Cuba.  Within the United States, Latinos now make up the fastest growing segment within the Church.  From 2000 to 2010 the number of Spanish language congregations more than doubled from 377 to 760.

From a doctrinal point of view, the LDS Church has had an interest in Latinos since the very beginning. The Book of Mormon is based on tablets that the founder of the Church, Joseph Smith, found through a celestial revelation in the 1820s.  According to the LDS Church these tablets are an account of people who had come to the Americas long ago and how Jesus Christ came to them and taught him his gospel.

These people who inhabited the Americans were recognized as pre-Columbian persons and are known as Lamanites within the Book of Mormon.  The Lamanites are considered special children of God by LDS members because of their interaction with Jesus Christ.   (more…)