Wasem, Ruth E. | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
  • Ph.D. in History, University of Michigan, 1990
  • M.A. in History, University of Michigan, 1978
  • B.A. in History, Political Science and Psychology, Muskingum College, 1976
Research Areas
  • Immigration, Asylum and Citizenship
  • Legislative Development
  • Unemployment and Social Welfare
Teaching Areas
  • Policy Process and Institutions
  • Social Policy
  • Finance, Management and Leadership (including non-profits)

For more than 25 years, Ruth Ellen Wasem was a domestic policy specialist at the U.S. Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service. She has testified before Congress about asylum policy, legal immigration trends, human rights, and the push-pull forces on unauthorized migration. Wasem earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history at the University of Michigan, largely funded by the Institute for Social Research. Wasem currently is engaged with a group of international scholars who are researching asylum and the rise of the political right, and she presented research papers focused on the U.S. context in Italy and Belgium over the summer of 2017. She is also writing a book about the legislative drive to end race- and nationality-based immigration. From this research, she has written "The Undertow of Reforming Immigration" for A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: The U.S. in an Age of Restriction, 1924–1965, (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming 2018). Other recent publications include The US Visa Waiver Program: Facilitating Travel and Enhancing Security, (Chatham House, 2017), “Welfare and Public Benefits” in American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change, 2nd Edition, (M.E. Sharpe, 2014), and Tackling Unemployment: The Legislative Dynamics of the Employment Act of 1946 (Upjohn Institute Press, 2013).

Media Expertise
  • Immigration


Media MentionJanuary 7, 2020
Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the U.S.

"There is a bright light in America's very dark sky," writes LBJ's Ruth Wasem in The Hill. "Despite a highly partisan Congress struggling to enact legislation and a president erupting in xenophobic tweets, a positive immigration provision became manifest during the holiday season. Nestled in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 that President Trump signed Dec. 20, 2019, is the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (section 7611). For the first time in over 20 years, foreign nationals from a country who had been given blanket relief from removal for humanitarian reasons now have the statutory authority to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

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NewsOctober 18, 2019
LBJ faculty, students present research on work, families, public workers, crime and more at the 2019 APPAM Conference

Professors and students from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin will lead conversations and present research across an array of policy areas at the 2019 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Fall Research Conference in Denver, Colorado Nov. 7–9.

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Media MentionOctober 9, 2019
Trump's latest misdiagnosis is bitter pill for immigrants

"President Trump’s Oct. 4 proclamation is a misdiagnosis of the policies and problems that shape whether people in the United States have adequate health insurance coverage. The president would have us believe that legal immigrants are a causal factor in uncompensated health care: 'While our health care system grapples with the challenges caused by uncompensated care, the United States government is making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs.' Only refugees, asylees, noncitizen children of U.S. citizens and a few other rare categories of immigrants are exempt from this new policy," writes LBJ Professor Ruth Wasem. 

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