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.

The Lone Star state jumped into the spotlight this week – a movie-worthy filibuster by Wendy Davis, a flood of demonstrators taking to the capitol, and a ramped up war of words between Texas Republicans and Democrats.

At the root of all of this drama is a Republican sponsored abortion bill.  If passed, the bill would make Texas one of the most restrictive states by outlawing abortions beyond twenty weeks of fertilization, decreasing the number of abortion clinics from thirty-seven to five because of prohibitively costly building requirements, and tightening the guidelines for the administration of abortion drugs.

The restrictions on abortions are just the latest in a series of measures shrinking the availability of healthcare for women in Texas.  In 2011 the Texas legislature pulled funding from any clinics that had ties to abortion services or providers, even though public monies would not go to funding such procedures.  The 2011 legislature also went a step further by cutting the funding of non-abortion affiliated clinics.  These measures ended up closing 56 of the 117 women’s health clinics around the state, clinics that were the most likely to provide well-women care to low-income women.

Then, to add icing to the cake, Governor Rick Perry has rejected additional Medicaid funds under Obamacare.  In other words, the state of Texas has decreased the availability of healthcare options for women while making these fewer options more costly for lower income women.

Texas has become the latest battleground on the larger Republican War on Women.   However, because of the state’s demographics Latinas are disproportionately in the cross-hairs of this war. (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…)

Texas Governor Rick Perry is a Marlboro man—tough, rugged, and handsome.  Perry is a tobacco chewing, boot wearing, coyote shooting executive.  His image is of a Hollywood tough guy, much like Fred Thompson in 2008.  They both mosied into a Republican presidential field void of a law and order type and both had the Bostonian Mitt Romney in their crosshairs.

Both Thompson and Perry have political experience, but ultimately take the position as Washington outsiders that want to be the new sheriff in town.  Perry has taken up the mantel of party savior, as Thompson did four years earlier.  (more…)