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 MSNBC’s Voices.

Can you tell?  If you look close enough, maybe listen for an accent can you figure it out—legal or illegal?

If, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio you think you can, you’re wrong.

Illegals, or persons who are undocumented, come in all shapes and sizes—from dark-skinned Mexican men to blue-eyed French 20-somethings.  And just as hard as differentiating who is in this country with their immigration paperwork in order is disentangling the meaning of legal v. illegal.

The term “illegal” conjures up images of shadowy criminal figures lurking in the night, such as was depicted in Sharon Angle’s 2010 Senate campaign ad.

How about a reality check?  Illegal immigrants are the smiling face that greets you at your favorite restaurant, the loving arms that take care of your children, and the blistered hands that pick the fruit for your organic smoothie.

More often than not, the people we term as illegal are law-abiding citizens who pay taxes (though do not receive government benefits). These individuals are tightly woven into the fabric of our daily lives by making sure all of the goods and services we want are at our fingertips.

The fundamental difficulty in parsing out immigrants into legal and illegal is that they both come here for the same reason—demand.  American employers want immigrants, whether they are biophysicists or landscapers, legal or illegal. (more…)