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.

Drugs.  Whether we want to admit it or not, any discussion revolving around the U.S. and Mexico must start and end with drugs.  However, these next two days President Obama and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto will do everything in their power to dance around the issue and ignore the elephant in the room.

The official theme of President Obama’s trip to Mexico centers on economics.  In a press conference earlier this week the president said,

A lot of the focus is going to be on economics. We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time.

The issue of economic integration and bilateral trade should indeed be an important topic.  After all, both countries share a two-thousand mile border and Mexico is the United State’s third largest trading partner, while the United States is Mexico’s number one trading partner.

There is also the economic issue of the movement of people, or immigration.  Mexicans make up the largest group of immigrants (both legal and illegal) in the United States.  The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that over 11 million Mexican immigrants currently reside in the United States.  And beyond demographic impact there is the economic impact of immigration for both countries, but especially for Mexico where immigrant remittances represent the largest source of direct foreign investment.

However, there can’t be a fruitful dialogue on either free trade or immigration until the issue of drugs is addressed.  The scope of Mexico’s drug war is so large and so encompassing that not starting there renders all other discussions irrelevant. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.  

As of Sunday, July 1, 2012 Mexico has about 10 million cracks in the glass ceiling.  The cracks that Mexican Presidential candidate, Josefina Vázquez Mota, got in were nowhere near Hillary Clinton’s 18 million, but the mere opportunity at having a whack at that ceiling is impressive.  Women’s political rights in Mexico have risen meteorically if you consider that women in Mexico could not vote until 1953.  However, like in the United States, the big prize, the ability to serve as president, or as la presidenta, is still elusive and will be until voters figure out what is they want from female executives.

In the 2008 primary election Hillary Clinton was viewed as too tough and played down the significance of being a woman.  Clinton strived to show that she was no different than a man.  Ironically, it was when she started to come to tears that she won the kindest words of the campaign.  A glimpse at her emotional, or “female” side, triggered a cascade of commentary about how as the first major female presidential contender she should not run from one of the traits that makes her unique.  Ultimately the emotional, touchy-feeliness went to the Obama camp.  As soon as Clinton was able to compose herself after her tearful moment she continued with her tough-as-nails approach.

In the Mexican presidential race Josefina Vázquez Mota employed the opposite strategy as Clinton.  Though Vázquez Mota, is an economist, a business woman, a politician, and gal who can hang with the machoist of Mexican men she chose to distance herself from the Clintonesque model and embrace her femininity.  In one of her major campaign ad spots, Ser mujer en Mexico” she not only highlighted her role as a woman but pledged to form a pact with other women—un pacto de mujer a mujer—that life in Mexico for women will be very different from the first moment she is president.  This strategy did not catch fire.  What did start a five-alarm campaign fire, however, where comments she made in jest at a campaign rally where she suggested that woman withhold cuchi-cuchi from their spouses if they did not vote in the election. (more…)