Category: Op-eds (page 1 of 3)

Don’t Stop, Don’t Give In: Why Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Must Continue to be a Vocal Voice on Immigration Policymaking.


Do you remember when Debbie-Mucarsel Powell unseated the two-term Republican incumbent in Florida House District 26’s highly contested election? Yeah, I do too, and I’ve spent a semester looking at how some critical features of the district like demographics and partisanships’ influence immigration policymaking in FL-26. These demographics along with existing literature on immigration provide some context as to how Representative Mucarsel-Powell can adequately perform the job she was elected to do—be an advocate for all her constituents at the national level—and still be reelected come 2020. Important characteristics of the district like it’s large Hispanic/Latino population, 50/50 split between the native and foreign-born population and lack of party strength help predict in what ways and to what extent Representative Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American immigrant elected to Congress, will be responsive when it comes to immigration. Since taking office earlier this year, so far, she has demonstrated that she will be a strong and powerful voice that is willing to push back against legislation that disfavors her constituents. Although representative Mucarsel-Powell has not had the chance to vote directly on an immigration bill, we can look at her active advocacy for the Venezuelan community and resistance to family separation and the detainment of migrant children as a proxy for what her legislative plan for immigration will be. After presenting, my claims supported by existing research, I  suggest that she continues to be a powerful voice in the immigration dialogue, vote for immigration reform when the chance comes, and keep calling out and acting against the hateful rhetoric and policies that target and dehumanize immigrants, particularly Latino immigrants.


Don’t Stop, Don’t Give In: Why Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Must Continue to be a Vocal Voice on Immigration Policymaking.

When I think about South Florida—the place that welcomed me 16 years ago and I’m lucky to call home—my mind instantly pictures the immigrant communities, particularly from the Carribean and Latin America, that serve as the backbone of the region. Culturally, at times it feels more like we’re living in the Caribbean or Latin American than in the U.S. because immigrants play an integral part of the broader South Florida community and have created neighborhoods like Little Havana. Politically, Latinos and Hispanics comprise a significant share of the electorate, and in Florida politics, their vote can determine the outcome in highly contended races.

Talking about highly contended congressional races, remember when Debbie-Mucarsel Powell unseated the two-term Republican incumbent in Florida House District 26? Yeah, I do too, and I’ve spent an entire semester looking at how some critical features of the district like demographics and partisanships’ influence immigration policymaking. This helps consider how Representative Mucarsel-Powell can adequately perform the job she was elected to do—be an advocate for all her constituents at the national level—and still be reelected come 2020.

Before we get into specific policy predictions, let’s get a glimpse of who Mucarsel-Powell is representing. FL-26 is a Hispanic dense district, with  72.3% of the 2017 population identifying of Hispanic or Latino origin, 15.8% white, 9.7% Black or African American and 2.2% Asian. Within the Hispanic community, the majority of the district Hispanics are either Cuban or from another Hispanic background, which I presume to be mostly from Central and South American countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, and El Salvador. In the past five years, there has been a slight 3.8% decrease in the white population, and an equaled 3.8 increase in the Hispanic population. It is essential to consider not only the size and growth of the Hispanic population but also the make-up of it as it relates to the effects it has on public opinion amongst whites, which can pressure the representative to vote in a certain way.

According to  Abrajano and Hajnal, white Americans are somewhat responsive to the growth of the immigrant population, but they’re more influenced by the overall size of the Latino population. This signals, that because of the large population, white Americans in FL-26 might favor more restrictive policies on immigration. However, Abrajano and Hajnal cited research that finds that the immigrant threat narrative targets Mexican immigration, and is less concerned about other Latino national groups like Puerto Ricans and Cubans, which there are far more of in the district.

That’s one layer of the demographics in the district, but we can get even more insight by looking at the foreign-born and native population. Currently, the district is evenly split (50/50) with about 40 more foreign-born individuals than native-born, and about  94% of the foreign-born population coming from Latin America. Another critical split to consider is partisanship; in this district, of party-affiliated voters, half are Republicans and the other half are Democrats. There is no denying that FL-26 is a battleground district, and that brings forth important electoral considerations for any representative of the district.

Other important components are that 58% of the foreign-born population are naturalized citizens, and 72.3% of the people in the district speak a language other than English (which means there either bilingual or monolingual of another language, most likely Spanish given the district demographics) and 27.7% only speak English. This explains why so many of Representative Mucarsel-Powell’s tweets and interviews are in Spanish and is another indicator of her responsiveness and inclusiveness of the Hispanic/Latino population.

All of these important characteristics help predict in what ways and to what extent Representative Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American immigrant elected to Congress, will be responsive when it comes to immigration. Since taking office earlier this year, so far, she has demonstrated that she will be a strong and powerful voice that is willing to push back against legislation that disfavors her constituents. Although representative Mucarsel-Powell has not had the chance to vote directly on an immigration bill, we can look at her active advocacy for the Venezuelan community and resistance to family separation and the detainment of migrant children as a proxy for what her legislative plan for immigration will be.

Tom Wong’s 2017 research  shows how immigrants play a determinative role in shaping policy outcomes by shifting median voter preferences away from policy restrictiveness. This provides a lense as to how Representative Mucarsel-Powell might face some challenges as she attempts to balance some of the splits in her districts’ demographics. Wong’s theory assumes that representatives are going to play the median voter strategy to capture the median voter and win re-election. On her campaign website, Mucarsel-Powell lists her policy proposals on immigration, and we can see that they are very targeted at the immigrant communities present in her district. She’s in favor of immigration reform, but we can see how she differs from the Democrats, that typically supports a more comprehensive and broader immigration agenda. She does not want to establish a comprehensive path to citizenship, at least not explicitly; what she wants is to create a path to citizenship for DREAMers. Her current policy proposal seems very conditional and will apply only to immigrants that fall within specific categories, and this seems like her way of balancing the dynamics in her district. However, I think her ability to unseat Curbelo, and the upward trend in the foreign population, which Wong claims will move the location of the median voter, gives her opportunity down the line—if she holds on to her seat—to advance even more liberal legislation on immigration that supports immigrants in more ways.

Now turning to Casellas and Leal’s 2013 research. Here, they examined the interaction of partisanship, constituencies, and member characteristics on the member of Congress’ voting behavior on immigration. They concluded that partisanship is the only consistent factor and that district demographics and the personal attributes of the member of Congress were not consistently associated with votes. Mucarsel-Powell seems to be the antithesis to this, she ran on a platform that highlights that she’s an immigrant and since taking office, has used her connection to Latin America to take a firm stance against Trump’s hateful and criminalizing rhetoric against immigrants from that region. One of the few bills that she’s sponsored, which passed, gave humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans both inside and outside the country. Of the 300,00 Venezuelans living in the U.S., 200,000 live in South Florida, so it’s not surprising that a coalition of Democratic congresswoman from South Florida have pushed for Venezuelans to be granted temporary protected status and cease the deportation of non-criminal migrants, which is the most humane thing to do given the crisis in Venezuela.

The real test for Debbie-Mucarsel Powell will come when immigration-related issues aren’t at the forefront of the national agenda, which I quite frankly don’t believe will ever happen under the current administration, but that will show if she’s genuine about being an advocate and supporter of this community or if she’s doing it just because it might be political suicide back home if she doesn’t. I find myself believing that she’s honest in her intentions to help immigrants and that FL-26 is lucky to have her as their representative. I suggest that she continues to be a powerful voice in the immigration dialogue, vote for immigration reform when the chance comes, and keep calling out and acting against the hateful rhetoric and policies that target and dehumanize immigrants, particularly Latino immigrants.


I pledge your honor that this paper represents my own work in accordance with university regulations.

-Daniela Alvarez

Bringing it Home: Expanding Lou Correa’s Active Stance on Immigration


For almost 70 years, Orange County, where district CA 46 is found, has remained strictly Republican, an anomaly within the majority blue state of California. However, CA 46, represented by Democrat Lou Correa, has itself stood as a deviation from this predominantly red county; for the past seven years, this district has been claimed by Democrats. Within the district, demographic shifts have led to a staggering increase in the Latino population, as the foreign-born population also continues to grow while the white population has decreased significantly. Scholarly research reveals how this demographic change has led to increased support for pro-immigration policies. Correa has proved himself to be an outspoken leader of immigration reform at the national level. However, white backlash among Republicans in Orange County prompts me to recommend that Correa adopt a more active stance on immigration at the local level, while maintaining his current actions on immigration related issues at the national level.


For almost 70 years, Orange County, where district CA 46 is found, has remained strictly Republican, an anomaly within the majority blue state of California. However, CA 46, represented by Democrat Lou Correa, has itself stood as a deviation from this predominantly red county; for the past seven years, this district has been claimed by Democrats. However, this was finally no longer the case when the November 2018 midterm elections “toppled what had long been a fortress of conservative Republicanism” as Democrats captured four Republican held congressional seats to turn Orange County blue. This shift also reflects the county’s history of presidential voting; the 2016 presidential race was the first in which Orange County backed the Democratic candidate over the Republican in 80 years. These results reflect the changing demographics that have transformed Orange County, including CA 46.

Between 2007 and 2017, the total population of the congressional district rose by 78,792. The percentage of whites significantly decreased by -41 percentage points (pp) during this time, while the Hispanic/Latino population dramatically grew by +48.3 pp. Among other racial demographics, Blacks increased slightly by +0.6 pp, while Asians decreased by -5.5 pp and Other races increased by +26.2 pp. Within the immigrant population size, specifically looking at Hispanic/Latino immigrants, the foreign-born population overall increased by a substantial +43.1 pp. Within this population, both foreign-born naturalized citizens and foreign-born non-citizens also increased, with +36.3 pp for the latter and +37.7 for the former. The significant changes among the White and Hispanic populations suggest that CA 46 is undergoing a rapid demographic shift as more Hispanic immigrants settle within the district and Whites leave, causing the congressional district to be majority Hispanic.

This drastic demographic change has a profound effect on the handlings of the issue of immigration. In research done by Casellas and Leal (2013), the two found that partisanship increasingly structures Congressional voting on the issue of immigration. The party affiliations of Congressional members as well as the measure of partisanship within districts and states had a significant effect in all House votes and most Senate votes (Casellas and Leal 2013). Republicans tended to favor more restrictive and enforcement approaches, while Democrats had an opposite approach. Within the House, Casellas and Leal (2013) found that a district’s Latino population is most associated with votes on immigration; the larger the population, the more likely a member will support comprehensive immigration reform and oppose restrictionist proposals.

These findings are consistent with CA 46 representative Lou Correa’s supportive stance on immigration. 18% of the bills he has sponsored are related to immigration, and more recently in January he sponsored H.R. 656: DREAMers, Immigrants, and Refugees (DIRe) Legal Aid Act which “require[s] the Attorney General to make grants to nonprofit organizations to offer legal assistance to certain aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, DACA recipients, and refugees, and for other purposes.” Furthermore, earlier this year following the January government shutdown, Correa was one of 19 Democrats who voted “no” on the fiscal 2019 appropriations package which was proposed in order to avert another shutdown. He and 13 other Hispanic Caucus members opposed any additional funding towards the border wall and were also against the bill’s immigration enforcement provisions. Clearly, Correa is staunchly in support of immigration on the national level. However, this is not to say that he is as active on the local level.

Given the significant increase in Latino population within CA 46, immigrant integration and representation both seem to be positive in the district. My media content analysis study comparing the tone and focus of articles in the Orange County Register, an English news source, and the Excelsior, a Spanish news source, found that the tone of the English news source was majority neutral, while that of the Excelsior was majority positive. These results are justified by the increase in bilingual and Spanish-speaking residents within CA 46, and support Abrajano and Singh’s study which found that Spanish language news covers immigration in a more positive and informative perspective than English language news (Abrajano and Singh 2009). Furthermore, Latinos who use both English and Spanish news sources are more likely to hold positive views towards immigration than Latinos who rely only on English news sources (Abrajano and Singh 2009).  This non-hostile rhetoric among local media coverage of immigration suggests that immigrant integration and representation are positive within the district.

Despite the pro-immigrant sentiment of CA 46, Orange County’s Republicans still wield substantial vocalization and political power. In March of 2018, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join the Trump lawsuit against California’s state sanctuary laws, proposed in Senate Bill 54. With a Hispanic population now larger than ever, this political action seems to fully complicate Casellas and Leal’s findings. However, research from Abrajano and Hajnal (2015) offers an explanation to the situation. They found that the larger the number of Latinos in a state, the more likely white Americans are to identify as Republican (Abrajano and Hajnal 2015). Not only does California have more immigrants than any other state, but based on Abrajano and Hajnal, it can be argued that the rising Latino population of Orange County sparked a white backlash among the county’s Republicans.

Given this, it would be wise for Correa to be more vocal of his support of immigration at the local level, while maintaining his current level of involvement on immigration related issues at the national level. Doing so will allow him to counter the anti-immigrant sentiment advocated by Orange County’s Republicans. Taking a more active stance on promoting immigration at the local level can involve publicly supporting local immigrant advocacy groups and working with Hispanic City Council members, such as Santa Ana mayor Miguel Pulido, to preserve California’s state sanctuary laws. Given the shifting demographics and growing Latino population within Orange County in general, Correa’s active involvement on issues of immigration at the local level would most likely be met with support and encouragement.

Pragmatism and Protection: Connecticut’s Fifth District and Immigration in the Era of Trump

Pragmatism and Protection

How Connecticut Democrats can support immigrants in the Trump-Era.



As cases pile up and contention grows, national immigration reform becomes more and more unlikely. Connecticut has the privilege of being a national leader in protecting immigrants. Of course, however, much can still be done. Pragmatic policies that focus on on education and voting are vital. Many do not require the signature of the President, perhaps the largest obstacle to pro-immigrant reform today. They provide protection to undocumented immigrants and greater political, economic, and academic opportunity. I do not mean to suggest any acceptance of the vitriolic speech and anti-immigrant attitudes of the current administration. These should be fought at every turn. But if  Connecticut Democrats want to pass pro-immigrant laws while Republicans control the White House, pragmatic policies and statewide legislation are the best course of action.

Full Op-ed:

The American immigration system is broken. Courts have hundreds of thousands of pending immigration cases, each of which takes almost two years to resolve. Families wait in limbo, wondering if they will be detained and deported. Nativist and xenophobic rhetoric runs rampant on Capitol Hill and in the White House. The resulting policies harm all Americans.

There is no easy fix. Our increasingly polarized political landscape— at nearly all levels of government— makes comprehensive immigration reform ever more elusive. President after president, Congress after Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have tried and failed to pass immigration reform. President Obama’s sole immigration related accomplishment, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), came via constitutionally questionable executive order. Today, unity around such a divisive issue seems near impossible. Bold, idealistic policies have their merits, but are useless if dead on arrival. Rep. Jahana Hayes, and all Connecticut representatives, must focus on pragmatic, locally oriented solutions if progress is to be made.

A strong, inclusive education system is an essential foundation to immigrant success and integration. According to the American Immigration Council, nearly 20% of Connecticut immigrants have less than a high school diploma. Only 7.6% of natives fall into the same category. This disparity is alarming and impacts the lives of all immigrants. Ms. Hayes should focus on narrowing this gap. Connecticut has already passed several laws that protect undocumented immigrant students, including offering them in state tuition rates. It is also imperative that younger undocumented immigrant students can attend school without fear they may be rounded up by ICE. Strengthening student privacy laws is a good place to start. Undocumented immigrants should be able to provide requisite information to their schools and other services without fear of federal retribution. Ms. Hayes, a former national teacher of the year, should recognize the critical role a strong education system plays in immigrant integration. Schools and students aside, Democrats should push for more cities– and perhaps the entire state– to become a sanctuary for immigrants. Proposed in 2017, the bill was never signed into law. Ms. Hayes, a new force in Connecticut and national politics, should use her recognition and political clout to advocate for this bill. This is a sensible first step to eventually providing citizenship to undocumented immigrants.  

In 2016, Senator Chris Murphy started the Latino Leadership Academy, which provides young Latinos, many of whom are immigrants, political mentoring and connections with people in power. This program began to remedy the dramatic lack of latino and immigrant representation in Connecticut’s government. It is critical that Ms. Hayes uses her political power to advocate for these students and their continued success. Expanding this program would open up more opportunities for immigrant children across the state. The National Conference of State Legislators reports only 7% of Connecticut’s state assembly is Hispanic and no members are Latino. Minorities and immigrants are more likely to vote, and become politically involved, when they their elected officials are also minorities or immigrants (Baldinucci et al, 2004). Increasing the number of immigrant representatives is imperative to dispelling negative stereotypes of immigrants propagated by this president. Ms. Hayes and her freshman colleagues, members of the most diverse congress ever, are indispensable advocates for the importance of minority and immigrant representation.

Hispanics and Latinos are the largest growing population group in the United States and Connecticut. With this growing population, comes more voting power and political sway. Connecticut Democrats have grown complacent expecting large margins of victory among immigrant voters. Once a potent force for immigrant enfranchisement, political parties have largely left the task up to nonprofits (Andersen, 2008). Strong efforts to register naturalized immigrants of all nationalities must be a top priority for Connecticut Democrats at home and nationwide. Our democracy benefits from participation. And ultimately, voting is the best way to counter anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.

Despite the aforementioned flaws, Connecticut has been one of the most progressive states on immigration legislation. New Haven’s municipal ID program was the first of its kind in the United States and has proven invaluable for the civic integration of undocumented immigrants (de Graauw, 2014). Six years later, in 2013, a bill was passed allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, increasing mobility and safety for some of the states most vulnerable residents. On May 15 of this year, the state senate strengthened the 2013 TRUST Act and reduced cooperation with ICE even further. These laws protecting immigrants are undoubtedly in conflict with the policies of the Trump administration. Nationally elected Connecticut Democrats must work hard to protect these laws from federal interference. This preservation is far more practical than chasing the ultra-progressive policies many national Democrats champion, especially while President Trump is in office.

As cases pile up and contention grows, national immigration reform becomes more and more unlikely. Connecticut has the privilege of being a national leader in protecting immigrants. Of course, however, much can still be done. The pragmatic policies I have outlined above center on education and voting. Many do not require the signature of the President, perhaps the largest obstacle to pro-immigrant reform today. They provide protection to undocumented immigrants and greater political, economic, and academic opportunity. I do not mean to suggest any acceptance of the vitriolic speech and anti-immigrant attitudes of the current administration. These should be fought at every turn. But if Democrats want to pass pro-immigrant laws while Republicans control the White House, pragmatic policies and statewide legislation are the best course of action.

Himes’ reticence on immigration the right strategy

Summary: I outline the extent to which our national conversation around immigration, in the form of media coverage and politicians’ rhetoric, has become racialized. Research shows that this framework helps the GOP through emphasizing the racial threat narrative, so I argue that Democratic politicians should retain old rhetorical lines on immigration policy, asking and trying to answer basic policy questions without indulging in racial rhetoric. I outline Rep Jim Himes’ (D-CT) platform and public statements, arguing that he is going about talking about immigration in the right way, from the perspectives of serving his constituents and advancing the interests of the party.

Full op-ed here:  himes_reticence_parkhurst_oped


Francis Rooney and the Treatment of Undocumented Immigrants

Last month, the head of Florida’s prison system, Mark Inch, proposed the introduction of a program whereby prison guards would train to become immigration agents so that they would be able to “identify and process criminal aliens.” The Tampa Bay News reported that Inch hoped this program would “serve the residents of the state of Florida” by allowing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to identify “criminal aliens who may pose a risk to public safety.”[1]


This act would suggest that Inch, and perhaps the residents of Florida, views illegal immigrants as dangers to society. Inch’s views on undocumented immigrants are reflective of the way in which the media represents them, and his views are also most likely shared by the representative of Florida’s 19thcongressional district, Francis Rooney, judging by the bills he has sponsored on this topic during his time in office so far.[2]Rooney is a Republican with conservative views on immigration and immigration policy-making.[3]He represents an area of Florida that is also Republican; its constituents voted for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election.[4]However, research shows that undocumented immigrants are not as dangerous as many US citizens believe them to be. I argue that these negative views towards undocumented immigrants are popular within this district, and in fact among US citizens in general, for a couple of main reasons: the media’s influence on citizens, the false theories that are circulating regarding undocumented immigrants, in particular (in this case) illegal immigrants and crime, and Rooney’s policy-making. As a result of these factors, I believe that undocumented immigrants are being treated unfairly and that Rooney’s policy-making regarding this issue should be changed.


Rooney’s recent bill sponsorship has included voting for a bill called ‘H.R. 2233, the American Jobs First Act.’ This act would “eliminate the pay discrepancy between foreign and American high-tech employees and would ensure the visas are only granted to qualified high-skilled workers instead of entry-level workers”[5]. This implies that Rooney thinks of illegal immigrants as people who are taking away American workers’ jobs and affecting the US economy in a negative way. Research has shown through their research that ethnocentrism is present among US citizens living with Latino immigrants (Valentino, Brader, Jardina 2013). (Latinos make up 19.43 percent of the population of Florida’s 19thcongressional district.[6]) However, they also show that ethnocentrism does not “drive policy views or beliefs about the impact of immigration on the nation’s economy or cultural values.” This begs the question: why is Rooney voting for this kind of bill, when his constituents are likely not worried about the economic side of illegal immigration? It is my belief that Rooney should not focus on bills that would limit job opportunities for undocumented immigrants. This is not what US citizens are worried about in terms of the undocumented Latino immigrant population. If he wants to represent on immigration in terms of the views of his citizens, he should vote on bills that reflect the true concerns of his constituents, not just on aspects of illegal immigration that are perceived threats to society.


Perceived threats lead to major misunderstanding when it comes to opinions and policy-making regarding undocumented immigrants. The media plays a huge role in this. The media has a great amount of control over a population’s opinion on a certain political issue. The content they choose to produce and the tone with which they produce it can significantly influence the perspective with which we view an issue. The media can frame the issue of immigration in either a negative or positive way, and this is often negative in areas with a white, Republican majority, according to research (Adida, Kim, Platas 2018). According to research, the more a certain issue is talked about in the news, the more “perceived importance” it has for citizens (Dunaway, Brandon, Abranjo 2010). This in turn likely causes the citizens’ perspectives to change about this specific topic. Naples News increased its media coverage concerning undocumented immigrants during the period of the government shutdown earlier this year.[7]Upon analysis, I found that its coverage generally had a negative tone, and so I can predict that this caused the population of Naples to have a more negative view about undocumented immigrants.

Therefore, the media is greatly to blame for the development of a skewed perspective of undocumented immigration on the part of the residents of Florida’s 19thcongressional district. Rooney, in order to solve this issue of mis-portrayal, should attempt to represent on immigration without being influenced by the media.


Furthermore, Rooney voted in favor of a bill, H.R. 486, Grants Law, that would, according to him, “end the “catch and release” of illegal immigrants who have been arrested for deportable crimes, protecting our citizens by not allowing these aliens to be released back into our communities.”[8]Here Rooney shows that he has the opinion that illegal immigrants lead to crime and are a danger to the community. However, research shows that increased rates of immigration in general actually lead to decreased rates of crime (Light, Miller 2018). Therefore, Rooney’s words perhaps are not based on evidence, but rather, as explained above, based on a skewed perspective of how much of a threat undocumented immigrants truly pose to US citizens. Rooney should instead focus on the correlation between undocumented immigrants and crime rates, using this to make a judgement instead of predicting the actions and the dangers of immigrants using pre-conceived ideas fed to society by the media.


To conclude, I do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove that undocumented immigrants pose more of a threat to the safety of society in Florida than other residents. I do not believe that Rooney would be able to justify his bill sponsorships against undocumented immigrants because so many of the opinions surrounding illegal immigrants are based off of inaccurate theories that have arisen from biased, negative media coverage which has consequently influenced the perspectives of the citizens exposed to it.


Works cited:-


Adida, Claire L., Kim Yi Dionne, and Melina R. Platas. 2018. “Ebola, elections, and immigration: how politicizing an epidemic can shape public attitudes.” Politics, Groups, and Identities.


Dunaway, Johanna, Regina P. Brandon and Marisa A. Abrajano. 2010. “Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, and the Issue of Immigration Reform.” Social Science Quarterly 91 (2): 359-78.


Light, Michael T., Miller, Ty, 2018. “Does undocumented immigration increase violent crime?” Criminology.


Valentino, Nicholas A., Ted Brader, and Ashley E. Jardina. 2013. “Immigration Opposition Among U.S. Whites: General Ethnocentrism or Media Priming of Attitudes About Latinos?” Political Psychology 34 (2):149-66.




[1]Florida’s prison guards may double as immigration officers (2019)

[2]Rooney’s official website



[5]Rooney’s official website




Anthony Brown’s Lack of Attention to the Immigration Policy Crisis in America

Op-Ed piece


My op-ed piece looks into the Hispanic representation in Congressional District 4 of Maryland. I look into how under represented the immigrant and Hispanic population is in this district. I examine the reasons as to why they may be under represented and how the district should go about confronting these issues. I first look at the actions of Anthony Brown. How he has been a great advocate for the black community in his district, as he is black. However, there is little evidence he has done anything for immigration reform. His website lacks anything on his stance and his twitter only uses immigration as a means to bash Trump. I then explain that the district is majority black and Wong explains that this correlates with less support for immigrant policy. I look at voter turnout of Hispanics and how they voted. Because their turnout is so low and they vote overwhelmingly democrat, democratic candidates such as Brown can take advantage of the Hispanic vote. I conclude with my opinion where I advocate for immigrants, Hispanics and people who care about the topic of immigration to voice their opinions and maybe consider a different representative for the next election.

Reevaluating Restrictive Views on Immigration


Buddy Carter’s GA-1 district has been a firmly Republican district with high native-born populations for over 10 years. Research demonstrates that such a strong Republican Party implies increased support from white citizens who are seeking anti-immigrant polices in response to growing numbers of immigrants and threatening depictions of immigration. Carter has responded accordingly by consistently sponsoring restrictive bills throughout his three terms as representative. However, these exclusionary perceptions and political actions only serve to isolate immigrants within the district and negatively affect the psychological health of young immigrants especially. In addition, further research presents that Latino voters, a quickly and steadily growing electorate, will act against threatening, anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric. The demographics of GA-1 reflect growing Latino and immigrant populations along with declining white and native-born populations. If he continues to support restrictive and exclusionary immigration politics, which fosters hostile political and social environments within the district, he risks losing support of the Republican Party and hindering the integration and overall well-being of an entire population group. As a representative, Carter should change along with his district in the interests of reelection and social welfare and offer support for permissive policies that encourage pro-immigrant attitudes like amnesty or advocacy for asylum-seekers.


Latinos are making their voices heard at the polling booths. In recent years, Latino voter turnout has grown exponentially, allowing the population to not only increasingly involve themselves in politics but also make their political needs known. After the election of a president adamant about border security and notorious for his anti-Latino immigrant rhetoric, Latino are taking action through their vote, especially during local elections. The 2018 congressional elections saw unprecedented numbers of Latino and earnestly pro-immigrant candidates voted into office. Latino citizens have refused to sit on the sidelines during this current political climate and their efforts have not been unnoticed or in vain. They are projected to become the largest non-white electorate by the next presidential elections and seem to be primarily showing support for the Democratic Party. This is a powerful group of constituents that have already helped turn the House of Representatives to majority Democrat.

Georgia’s first congressional district, led by third-term representative Buddy Carter, has been firmly Republican for the past 25 years. However, the margin by which Carter defeated his Democratic candidate was much smaller in 2018 than it had been in recent years. As research will show, the anti-immigrant attitudes of a strong Republican party disrupt the psychological development of local young immigrants and immigrant integration into local society. If Carter continues to support restrictive immigration policies and alienate a growing Latino population in the district, Latino voters will respond accordingly and the strength of the party will continue to dwindle, which will be reflected by Carter being elected by smaller and smaller margins until he is unseated by a Democratic candidate.

How should Republican representatives like Buddy Carter respond to these recent electorate and political changes in order to maintain party strength and political influence?

As Marisa Abrajano’s and Zoltan Hajnal’s 2015 study explains, growth in the immigrant population combined with negative depictions of Latino immigrants as threatening in national news has led to more support for the Republican party by white Americans. This support has been reflected in GA-1 through Carter’s congressional sponsorship for policies restricting immigration, immigrant rights, and immigrants’ paths to citizenship. His political actions imply anti-immigrant rhetoric and attitudes that permeate local society and create unwelcoming and even hostile environments for immigrants. Young immigrants are especially impacted by social environments like these and restrictive policies, according to Hirokazu Yoshikawa’s 2016 article. Living in communities in which local politicians and media consistently express exclusionary views about immigrants causes these youths to feel socially isolated and discriminated against, which negatively affects their psychological health by sparking high levels of stress, worry, and feelings of hopelessness. They are unable to fully integrate into a society that rejects them and harmfully impacts their well-being.

But why should Carter care about the experience and integration of immigrants in his district? For one, the demographics of his district are changing. Within the past ten years, GA-1 has experienced an almost two percent growth in the Latino population, one percent increase in the foreign-born population, one percent decrease in the native-born population, and nine percent decrease in the white alone population, which is the only racial group with negative growth. Meanwhile, diminishing support for the Republican Party is indicated by recent election results. In 2018, Carter defeated Democrat Lisa Ring by only 13.4 points compared to the 2016 election during which he ran and won virtually unopposed. If, as a politician, Carter’s primary goal is reelection, then logically, he should begin to respond to the needs of his changing constituency and the increasing numbers of Latinos. Beyond motivations of reelection, Carter should be concerned about the well-being of immigrants in his districts and their ability to integrate, whether or not they are naturalized citizens. Overall social prosperity should be a priority for any congressman and if there are entire groups of people suffering and unable to succeed and contribute to their communities, then this prosperity is compromised. In addition, when groups have felt marginalized and isolated historically, they tend to react through protests, demonstrations, and other forms of civil unrest.

Carter’s future reelections are also threatened by Latino voters. The negative rhetoric and support of restrictive policies illicit reactionary, political responses from Latinos, as Ariel White’s 2016 study argues. She finds that groups are mobilized to react politically to threatening policies, even if the policies do not affect them directly. Latinos can act against anti-immigrant laws and politics without being immigrants themselves by going to the polls and voting for candidates with more inclusive and pro-immigrant promises and rhetoric, who would most likely be members of the Democratic Party. The effects and influence of the Latino vote against a Republican representative like Carter would be exacerbated by GA-1’s growing Latino population and electorate.

In order to maintain strong support for the Republican Party and sustain inclusivity and integration of Latino and immigrant population groups, Buddy Carter should ease his firmly restritionist stance on immigration and offer advocation for asylum-seekers and amnesty. This will serve to counter anti-immigrant attitudes within the district and Carter’s political actions, allowing for immigrants to feel less isolated and unwelcome. Young immigrants will be better off mentally and psychologically and the possibility of protest and civil unrest will be tempered. As Carter begins to reflect the needs of the changing demographics of his district and sponsor bills that are less strict on immigration, Latino voters will be less inclined to vote against him. This country has seen to the power of a growing Latino electorate in recent elections and will continue to bear witness within the upcoming years. If Buddy Carter wants to keep the voting margins comfortably large between him and his Democratic counterparts, he will reevaluate and reconsider his support of anti-immigrant bills and views.

Community-Centered Initiatives are the New Black

By Leia Walker and Germalysa Ferrer


A wristwatch is a fascinating device whose outside is one complete unit, but the interior is full of small, important gadgets that cannot be overlooked. The wristwatch is the blessed American nation and the small gadgets are its localities. It is imperative that we understand how important localities are today, especially in an age where the nation is sharply polarized over what stance to take on immigration. Today’s news sources depict all Republicans following one mindset and Democrats another. However, what they fail to see is how localities, particularly small ones, prioritize their community members over party agenda. To support this claim, we will be observing and comparing Virginia’s District 6 (observed by Leia Walker) and Minnesota’s District 5 (observed by Germalysa Ferrer).

There have been quite convincing arguments that posit partisanship as a strong indicator of immigrant preference; Republicans prefer strict regulations and Democrats prefer permissive policies.  In addition, research also concludes that newer House Representatives are more likely to favor restrictive immigration policies. This is a characteristic facing Virginia’s District 6 at the present. However, these arguments do not specify who or what really determines an immigrant’s experience once they arrive in America. According to immigration scholar Monica McDermott, local context heavily determines an immigrant’s experience in the US. Truly what immigrants need is a kind reception in order to feel at home.

What one would expect for Republican localities to do is reject immigrants and for Democratic localities to accept them. However, that is not the case for two anonymous Republican counties of Virginia’s District 6. When asked about immigrant participation in their Republican committee, one of the county chairs mentioned that immigrants indeed do participate, further stating that the committee is “open to any members of the community, we represent the people, we’re all here for our community and what’s best for it.” The other county chair mentioned that “all we ask is that you are a registered voter, it doesn’t matter your background,” in order to be involved in the Republican committee. He continued, saying there are “clerks, sheriffs, and private organizations” that influence the political and social initiatives of a community, highlighting that there are other players in the local context besides partisanship. These two counties, highly representative of Virginia’s District 6 due to their rural setting and small population size, surely have a community-oriented focus that quite clearly transcends partisan expectations. Not only does this observation clarify the role of localities in the fabric of America, but it signals the solution to communities that do not know how to receive immigrant populations: continue to favor community-oriented policies that seek to integrate any and all members of the community.

Again, we argue that immigrant integration is dependent on community-based initiatives that service entire communities because they, by virtue, include immigrants. What you would expect from a liberal Democratic district such as Minnesota’s 5th district is that immigrant integration would be encouraged. Before researching, I knew that nonprofits facilitated immigrant integration in a local district, but I had no idea the extent of their roles. I originally thought that immigrant nonprofits and cultural groups (or groups who are concentrated on serving one group of people) contributed equally to immigrant integration. However, after interviewing Democrat faculty, nonprofit executive directors, and cultural group representatives, I learned that nonprofit organizations helping any and all immigrants engage with their community are the critical foundation. During my interview with communication directors of District 5’s Democratic organization, I was often referred to Arrive Ministry, the largest nonprofit and immigrant-welcoming organization of the district. When I interviewed people from cultural groups, they too referred me to me back to Arrive Ministry. Even the services they provide such as daycares, elderly assistance, and translation services, provided by groups like the South-East Asian Association, were again associated with Arrive Ministry. Bob Oehrig, Arrive Ministry’s executive director, told me about all of the services that it provides such as legal help, jobs, furnished housing, and even classes that aim to teach refugees and immigrants skills like riding the bus. Initiatives and nonprofits like Arrive Ministry that service all immigrant/refugee populations, rather than just specific populations show why it’s important to support initiatives that service entire communities rather than one population because they play an important role in everyone’s integration.

Overall, Virginia’s District 6 and Minnesota’s District 5 show very community-oriented leaders and highlight the need for communities to continue their ‘embrace-all’ policies and organizations, which accept and protect immigrants residing in the locale. While skeptics of community-centered policies may argue that only majority interests will be observed, that may not be the case on a local scale, where minorities are taking part in the social and political activities of the majority group. Virginia’s District 6 has a more policy-oriented and public office approach to serving the community, and Minnesota’s District 5 approaches service through nonprofit organizations, but both districts bring immigrants into the larger societal circle of the district, furthermore producing the political and social integration of immigrants. These strategies, particular policy-oriented ones, are already beginning to take form in New Haven, CT, where the city government released municipal IDs that allow immigrants and native-born Americans to take part in the same locally-provided activities, recognized by local public offices and the police. Measures like these will ensure the cohesion between an incoming population and those already residing, which allows for greater progress in community initiatives, activities, and morale. For what happiness or peace is there in a community with no unity?

Responding to Trump: Can Immigrant Identity Prevent Subgroup Fragmentation?


This op-ed focuses on how Representative Adriano Espaillat can best represent his Northern Manhattan congressional district on issues of immigration, in particular in light of recent hostility from the Trump administration. It centers on the remarkable ethnic diversity within the district that has in the past contributed more to source of competition than a shared identity as immigrants. But while New York City politics may be predisposed toward ethnic competition, the city also has a long history of immigrants working to help other immigrants. I suggest that local politicians and organizing leaders must work together to bridge these differences and build coalitions over common agendas. Though this will undoubtedly require sustained outreach across communities, only by working together and promoting the integration of currently marginalized groups will we achieve progress on creating more welcoming and inclusive communities.


Responding to Trump: Can Immigrant Identity Prevent Subgroup Fragmentation?

President Donald Trump’s latest thoughts on immigration proposal, set to be unveiled today, threatens to upend the norms that have guided this country’s immigration system has functioned over the past decades. Should the proposals eventually become law, they will sharply curtail the ways in which people of other nations seek better lives in the United States. This will in particular affect the millions of immigrants in cities like New York, who live in ethnic enclaves where family connections are the main pathway to residence and ultimately citizenship.

Let’s look at one such example: New York’s Thirteenth Congressional District, composed primarily by Upper Manhattan, is more than a third foreign born, while close to sixty percent of the district’s residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the most recent Census estimates. For many there, immigration issues are a top priority. In the time I spent in the district, I learned that a deep sense of fear pervades the district. Not only does the undocumented population live with the constant dread of deportation, but legal residents as well worry about their futures under the current administration.

To what degree are they supported by local politicians? It depends who you ask. While more well-connected immigrant communities enjoy the full-throated support of local politicians, others, such as the Mexican immigrants of East Harlem, are not so lucky. These communities suffer from regular mistreatment and “broken promises” as a result of their lack of representation, according to Melina Gonzalez, immigration outreach organizer at LSA Family Health Service, a local nonprofit organization. At the same time other national groups, such as West Africans, feel disconnected entirely from the political system, according to François Nzi, the founder of a tutoring and coaching service for immigrant youth, and himself originally from the Ivory Coast. Despite the fact that the current representative in the U.S. House was a formerly undocumented Dominican, many still feel unembraced by the political elite. And while individual communities inhabit adjacent, or even shared spaces, there is little sense district-wide of banding together as a unified immigrant voice.

Part of that is just New York City politics, and its history of ethic competition. On a surface level, given the long tradition of identity politics in New York City, it would be only natural to claim to speak for one’s own ethnic group. But on a more structural level, however, historians such as Nancy Foner, a professor of sociology at CUNY, have long maintained that “In New York, ethnic competition is a fact of life.” Foner, quoting the UCLA professor Roger Waldinger, argues that the “politics in the city ‘presents newcomers with a segmented political system, organized for mobilization along ethnic group lines, and a political culture that sanctions, indeed encourages, newcomers to engage in ethnic politics.’” Cooperation and joint action, then, are the exception rather than the norm, a reality that may be harming the immigrant cause overall.

The solution to that problem, however, is clear. In order for local political leaders to better serve their constituents on the issue of immigration, they must work toward creating cross-cutting ethnic coalitions to support an immigration-focused agenda. In doing so, they have much to draw on: New York City has a long history of managing its unique diversity. As Mary Waters & Philip Kasinitz summarize in a recent essay: “if New York seems perennially beset by small ethnic struggles, its diversity of groups, its complex quilt of overlapping interests and alliances, and the broad acceptance of the idea that ethnic succession, if not always pleasant, is both legitimate and inevitable have generally prevented city-engulfing racial or ethnic conflagrations.” Successful outcomes, they argue, are a result of cooperation that happens when different groups can realize that they’re on the same team.

This too, has been an approach previously effective in New York. A comparative study of several U.S. and European cities credits the successful outcomes on measures of immigrant integration to be due, in part, to the dense presence of immigrant-oriented organizations that “have been able to find common ground and articulate common agendas focused on issues affecting many disadvantaged immigrants … Organisations actively engage in coalition building to pool their staff skills, membership bases, and other organisational resources.” That paper links the increasing influence of immigrants in local New York politics to their ability to identify and mobilize over shared group interests.

Only time will tell how much of an impact Trump’s latest proposals will have on immigrant interests in New York and around the country. But those who wish to fight back must focus on fostering collaboration and unity among the various ethnic identities jostling for influence. The actual implementation of this goal will require a combination of bottom-up and top-down measures: local organizers should continue to focus on increasing measures of civic engagement, but elected officials must at the same time make a coordinated effort to incorporate marginalized communities into political processes. Representative Espaillat is smart to draw on his Dominican heritage to underpin his support for immigrants, but he must at the same time be wary of relying only on his personal narrative to the exclusion of the full diversity of his district.

Juan Vargas Should Stick to the Democratic Party


Congressional Representative Juan Vargas, who represents the southernmost parts of California along the U.S.-Mexico border, should embrace the Democratic Party’s liberal stance on immigration and continue to prioritize pro-immigration policies in order to appeal to his broad voting base. Median voter theorem tells us that representatives should appeal to the median voter in their district, which for Vargas’s case is a voter with pro-immigration views, regardless of their ethnicity or race. Therefore, Vargas would be wise in prioritizing immigration as one of his policy issues and taking a strong expansionist immigration view, keeping in line with the Democratic Party’s current stance. In truth, he is already well on his way there–his co-sponsored bills, social media, and rhetoric demonstrate a commitment to immigration that he should continue to pursue, and that the rest of the Democratic Party would do well to follow.


            For a long time, immigration was seen as an issue that cross-cut traditional cleavages to create unlikely bedfellows on both sides. Daniel J. Tichenor’s 2009 article “Navigating an American Minefield: The Politics of Illegal Immigration” discusses the historical stances on immigration, as left-leaning cosmopolitans banded together with pro-business interests to support expansive immigration policies, whereas Democratic economic protectionists—namely union workers—teamed up with cultural protectionists to favor restriction of immigration numbers and rights. However, immigration has increasingly become less cross-cutting and more strictly wedded to the divisions of traditional partisanship—that is, Democrats support pro-immigrant policies, and Republicans seek to restrict immigrant freedom and entry, as recent Congressional actions and numerous political science studies find. In order to maintain their base of support, Democrats should support their party’s stance on immigration and the importance of expansion. Particularly in the case of district CA 51, which encompasses parts of San Diego and Imperial County right on the U.S.-Mexican border, Congressional Representative Juan Vargas should embrace the Democratic Party’s increasingly liberal stance on immigration and continue to prioritize pro-immigration policies in order to appeal to his broad voting base.

A rapidly increasing body of literature finds that Democratic districts and representatives tend to have more pro-immigration policies, whereas Republican Members of Congress are likely to espouse more anti-immigration ideals. As Tom Wong argues in his 2017 book The Politics of Immigration: Partisanship, Demographic Change, and American National Identity, partisanship has become the defining determiner of representatives’ votes on immigration. Through an examination of federal votes on immigration-related policies, Wong concludes that House Representatives’ voting records have “entrenched perception that Democratic legislators will stand on the side of more inclusive immigration reforms and against restrictive immigration policies” (Wong 15). In their 2013 paper, Jason Casellas and David Leal further develop Professor Wong’s discussion of partisanship in immigration policymaking, supporting the idea that a strong Democratic presence leads to more inclusive immigration policymaking. Through statistical analysis, Casellas and Leal find that “partisanship is the only consistent factor across votes and chambers,” and that Latino population was associated with more votes in the House compared to the Senate (Casellas & Leal 48).

Polarization between Democrats and Republicans has only been deepened by the ease with which voters can choose a side on immigration—there are starkly defined lines between the two parties, and therefore the choice for many Americans is clear. However, in an ideal world, the Republican Party would also embrace immigration and the benefits that immigrants bring to American society. Beyond the incommensurable benefits of diversity of cultures and backgrounds for natives and nonnatives alike, immigrants also produce tangible economic benefits. In their 1995 study, economists Rachel M. Friedberg and Jennifer Hunt find that contrary to popular belief, empirical evidence does not support the idea that “immigrants have a large adverse impact on the wages and employment opportunities of the native-born population of the receiving country.” Natives do not suffer significantly due to increased immigration, even when they have closely related or substitutable fields of work. Additionally, a 1994 report by Michael E. Fix and Jeffrey S. Passel finds that contrary to public perception, immigrants pay significantly more in taxes than they receive in services. However, if the Republican Party is unwilling to accept these truths, the Democratic Party and its representatives would do well to hold even more firmly to their expansionist immigration views, and uphold them proudly. The cost of increased polarization pales in comparison to the human dignity of immigrants and the benefits they and their host country would receive as a result.

These increasingly entrenched immigration stances create an action plan for Representative Juan Vargas that emphasizes pro-immigration attitudes and a prioritization of immigration issues in his policy and platforms. Representative Vargas’s median voter is pro-immigration, and the median voter theorem proposes that representatives should cater to the district’s median voter preferences in order to capture the broadest possible base of support. CA 51’s median voter is Hispanic, as the district boasts a Hispanic population of 70.9% and a substantial 10.7 pp growth in the Hispanic population over the past 10 years. According to a 2008 Pew Research study by Lopez and Minushkin, Hispanic voters traditionally favor the Democratic Party and its pro-immigration policies. Furthermore, Professor Wong’s 2014 paper “The Politics of Interior Immigration Enforcement” found that higher Latino populations are negatively correlated with support for increased interior enforcement. Secondly, in my own initial research, utilizing the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES) dataset, I found that regardless of ethnicity, residents of CA 51 have positive pro-immigration views, since there is no statistically significant difference between Latino and non-Latino attitudes toward immigration. It is therefore in CA 51 and Representative Vargas’s best interests to represent the median pro-immigrant constituent.

In truth, Representative Vargas already has quite a stellar record on these fronts. The largest percentage of his sponsored and co-sponsored bills—19% of them—is on the topic of immigration. Immigration is a clear priority for him, evident from his social media cover photos and website that emphasize solidarity with DREAMers and immigrant veterans. Furthermore, a large 15% of his total tweets from January to March of this year were about immigration, and 100% of them adopted a positive tone about immigration. In speaking to news outlets, he also frequently underlines his commitment to immigration reform, stating that “comprehensive immigration reform will improve border security while treating immigrants with human decency” in a recent interview with the San Diego Union Tribune.

America may no longer be the land of cross-cutting cleavages, where Democrats and Republicans can stand together on the issue of immigration, depending on what interests they pursue and prioritize. However, this is not necessarily a bad phenomenon. Rather, Democrats and Democratic representatives should hold the ideals of pro-immigration ever more strongly, and follow the example of Members of Congress like Representative Juan Vargas, who should continue to pursue pro-immigrant policies in order to appeal to his expansionist voting constituents.

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