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 piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com

President-elect Trump’s immigration enforcement is about to come to a city near you, well, at least if you find yourself in one of the 300 sanctuary cities across the country.

What is a sanctuary city? There’s not one official definition but it’s basically municipalities that don’t alert federal authorities about people in their city who lack legal status or go out of their way to find them.

Beyond the shorthand of what side of the immigration debate you’re on—if you want to build the wall or prefer comprehensive immigration reform—most of us aren’t versed in the policy technicalities of how extensively local and federal immigration law enforcement authorities work together. It’s not a one-size-fits all concept.

Nevertheless, President-elect Trump on his first day in office will cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities. Just to name two of the biggies, there’s Los Angeles receiving half a billion and New York with $10 billion in federal funding.

President-elect Trump’s punishment to sanctuary cities is both steep and nonsensical.

To begin, sanctuary cities are not a shield against deportation. If a person is undocumented and resides in one of the 300 sanctuary entities, they do not get a “pass.” Federal immigration law enforcement can come to a person’s home, work, you name it, and execute a deportation order anywhere in the United States. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBLatino.

Politics boils down to box checking. It’s not a perfect prediction, but the boxes we check on our Census forms—religion, race, ethnicity, sex, even region—do a pretty good job of describing our political preferences.

Voters and candidates fall into neat categorizations as being Latino, Black, White, Evangelical, Jewish, etc. But as next week’s mayoral race in Los Angeles shows politics has gone outside the box.

The top contenders in the L.A. mayoral race are a melting pot of identities. There’s Eric Garcettiwho is of Italian, Mexican, and Jewish descent. Then there are two women, Jan Perry, who is black and converted to Judaism many years ago and Wendy Greuel who is white but is married to a Jewish man. This race is non-partisan so voters don’t even have the informational short-cut of sorting out the candidates by party.

This race is so fascinating not just because it’s taking place in our nation’s second largest city, but because it’s a microcosm of what is going on in our nation. Identity politics today is more about a mixture than clear boundaries. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Rule number one in politics:  don’t make the headlines of TMZ.

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has broken this cardinal rule three times in the last week.  TMZ, the celebrity gossip site has actually bestowed the title of Mayor Suave upon Villaraigosa.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Harvey Levin and the TMZ crew and right next to my POLITICO and RealClearPolitics phone app is my TMZ app.  But, this is not where I should be going to read about my national leaders and this isn’t the first time Villaraigosa has been fodder for TMZ.

This TMZ episode speaks to a larger question about what the mayor’s legacy will be.  Will it simply be that of a common Latino stereotype of the suave Latin lover?  Or does Mayor Villaraigosa leave office this year with a legacy—a lasting political accomplishment akin to Mayor Giuliani’s cleaning up New York’s Times Square or Richard M. Daley making Chicago a global city.

The short answer is no.  However this does not mean that he did not accomplish good things for America’s second largest city.  During his eight years in office he has overseen an improved police department in a city infamous for problems for its police force.  He has also streamlined the city’s bureaucracy by making it more accessible to the business sector while at the same time better connecting city agencies with the citizenry. (more…)