Skip Navigation

Fall 2012 - 62295 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

U.S. Immigration

Instructor(s): Soto, Victoria Maria De Francesco
Unique Number: 62295
Day & Time: Th 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.220
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description

According to the 2010 Census one in five people in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Currently, the U.S. has the highest foreign-born population since its peek in 1920. Since it’s founding the U.S. has been a country of immigrants, a country that historically has been a principal receiving country. However, since its beginnings there has been a love-hate relationship with immigration. This course delves into the nature of this tumultuous relationship providing a rigorous theoretical, historical, and political overview of immigration in order to inform a more specific and applied public policy understanding.

The course begins by providing a theoretical review of migration theories. We begin by developing an understanding of the motivations and contexts surrounding human movement. We then move in closer to start filling in the picture of who the “immigrant” is. Having established a more concrete demographic profile we turn to a historical review of immigration. A contemporary understanding of immigration is impossible without knowledge of the historical forces and circumstances that shaped our current system. More specifically, we focus on the historical context of Mexican immigration and the unique dynamic between Mexico and the United States. Having laid the historical groundwork, the course moves into the area of public policy. We review the effects of immigration on the economy, the labor market, and social policies before engaging in a discussion of the efforts over the last decade of developing a comprehensive reform and its failure leading state and local governments attempting to regulate immigration. The final part of the course takes a step back to consider the political implications of immigration through a review of public opinion and finally with an analysis of the political actions of immigrants themselves.   

Careful and thoughtful preparation before each class is essential. Participation in the seminar is critical to your success in the course, as a result, attendance is required. Grades will be based on a comprehensive final, a policy analysis paper and presentation, and two comment papers corresponding to the two weeks you serve as seminar moderator. 

At the end of the course, you will be prepared to be producers and consumers of immigration policy analyses. You will also have a particular expertise in the politics and policy of sub-national immigration affairs, as well as the specific state-level policy issue of your choosing.

Readings: There are a number of books to be purchased. Articles, chapters and papers not available online will be posted on Blackboard, as indicated in the syllabus by the citation note: BB. The basic books are:

  • Borjas, George J. 2001. Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American    Economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 
  • Fix, Michael, ed. 2011. Immigrants and Welfare: The Impact of Welfare Reform on America’s Newcomers. New York: Russell Sage.
  • Hanson, Gordon H. 2005. Why Does Immigration Divide America? Washington, D.C.:  Institute for International Economics
  • Massey, Douglas S., Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone. 2003. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. New York: Russell Sage.
  • Massey, Douglas S, ed. 2008. New Faces in New Places: The Changing Geography of American Immigration. New York: Russell Sage.
  • Tichenor, Daniel J. 2002. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 


Course Requirements

  1. A research paper in which you analyze a state-level policy related to immigration. Please discuss your choice of topic with the instructor. Papers should not exceed 15 pages or 4,000 words. Presentations of preliminary research will be scheduled for the final two class sessions of the semester. Final papers must be submitted no later than December 7, 2012 via e-mail and a hardcopy. Final paper; 40% of the grade
  2. Written comments (8-10 pages double-spaced) on the course readings for two seminar sessions. You must post your comments to blackboard no later than 5 pm, preceding the day of the course session in which we will discuss the materials you cover in your comments. You will lead the seminar discussion on both days for which you have prepared written comments (two course participants can lead jointly but each will write their comments individually). Late papers will not be accepted. Each comment: 10% of the course grade.
  3. Final Exam: 30% of the grade.
  4. Regular class attendance is expected. Class participation: 10% of the grade.