Representative: Frank Pallone
District: 6th District of New Jersey (NJ –06)
Party: Democratic Party
NJ-06: 2008 -2018 Election Results
Representative Frank Pallone has continuously represented the 6th District of New Jersey (NJ-06) since 1988 and has won most of his elections by a significant margin. The 6th District of New Jersey covers Middlesex and Monmouth Counties and, importantly, townships such as Edison, New Brunswick, Ashbury Park, Long Branch, and Perth Amboy, The district is largely suburban and is home to important educational institutions such as Rutgers University, companies such as Novo Nordisk and Wakefern Food Corporation, and major medical centers such as Robert Wood Johnson. Moreover, the district is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.
Political Theory Behind Immigration Policy Dynamics
A number of scholars have theorized the political foundations of immigration policy dynamics in the United States congress. Wong and others found that partisanship was the most consistent determinant of support or opposition for immigration policy. Casellas and Leal discovered that the length of tenure of the representative is a determinant of immigration policy support where shorter tenure is correlated with lower support. On the district level, Casellas and Leal also showed that a high poverty rate is negatively associated with reform legislation and positively correlated with enforcement measures. In terms of demographics, scholars showed that greater foreign-born percentage as well as greater Latino percentage were both associated with pro-immigration legislation.
Wong (2017): http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190235307.001.0001/acprof-9780190235307
Casellas and Leal (2013): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21565503.2012.758588
Milner and Tingley (2011): https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2182086
Predictions on Immigration Reform
Given the heterogeneity of the 6th District of New Jersey, it is expected that the political theories have relevance to Representative Pallone’s immigration policy support. As a staunch Democrat, we expect Representative Pallone to support pro-immigration legislation in most, if not all, forms. Furthermore, since he has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1988 and is a ranking member, we also expect him to be an ardent supporter of his position on immigration because he is not liable to reelection dynamics like newer members. At the district level, the poverty rate of NJ-06 is comparable to that of the state and so we expect poverty to be unrelated to his support or opposition to immigration policy. The percentage of foreign-born is over 7% higher for NJ-06 and, as a result, we expect this to play into his support for pro-immigration policy. Since the Latino percentage is 2% higher for NJ-06 as compared to the state, we also predict that he will support comprehensive immigration reform. All of the predictions support that Representative Pallone will be a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.
Actual Immigration Policy Outlook
As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Pallone is a ranking member of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives. However, he is not as active on the front of immigration as expected. Only 4.65% of bills sponsored or cosponsored by him since 1988 have related to immigration. Moreover, immigration is only 1 of 17 issues listed on his website and does not match his priority on civil rights and energy. Recently, however, he has supported a pro-immigration position publicly on Twitter and through speaking appearances to counter the Republican anti-immigration sentiment. In addition to voting against all Trump Administration immigration policies, he has also been active in the past by being a vocal advocate for the DREAM Act. Interestingly, in 1996, he voted in support for an immigration reform bill that strengthened border security and penalized illegal immigrants. Although not as ardent a supporter as we predicted, Representative Pallone falls squarely in the Democratic camp in terms of supporting pro-immigration policy.