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)

Ruth Wasem teaches policy development courses on immigration, citizenship, refugees and legislative development. She is affiliated with the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

For over 25 years, Dr. Wasem was a policy specialist at the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service. She has testified before the U.S. Congress on asylum policy, immigration, human rights and unauthorized migration. She is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and as a contributing opinion writer for TheHill.com.

Dr. Wasem's research on asylum has resulted in two articles in 2020: "More than a Wall: The Rise and Fall of U..S Asylum and Refugee Policy," in the Journal of Migration and Human Security, and "At the Nexus of Refugee and Labour Migration: U.S. Refugee Policy Formulation after the Second World War," in the Journal of Migration History.

She has published "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, 2019). She also is writing Ebb and Flow: U.S. Immigration Policy over Time (Wiley Blackwell, forthcoming). Other recent publications include "Immigration Governance for the 21st Century" in the Journal of Migration and Human Security (Sage, 2018); and Tackling Unemployment: The Legislative Dynamics of the Employment Act of 1946 (Upjohn Institute Press, 2013).

Dr. Wasem directed a policy research project (PRP) that resulted in the publication Welcoming Communities: Immigrant Incorporation in Dallas, TX (2020). This research project on immigrant incorporation has expanded to San Antonio and its peer cities.

She has appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered"; PRI's "The World"; KUT's "Morning Edition"; Texas Public Radio and The Texas Standard, and been cited in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News, among other publications.

Media Expertise
  • Immigration


NewsJune 8, 2020
Sadikshya Nepal (MGPS '20) named first BPC immigration policy fellow

The LBJ School of Public Affairs, in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), announced today that Sadikshya Nepal (MGPS '20) has been named the first immigration policy fellow on the organization's immigration and cross-border policy team. The LBJ School and the BPC select an LBJ alum to work at BPC for one to two years on research and writing projects in the area of immigration.

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May 21, 2020
The Collision of a Refugee and Health Crisis

An unprecedented global migration crisis has now collided with the COVID-19 pandemic. How do the most vulnerable — those fleeing persecution, climate catastrophes and the protection of fundamental rights — navigate a world upended by a global public health crisis? Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, joins the LBJ School's Dr. Ruth Wasem, one of the nation's foremost immigration experts, for a moderated conversation on the intersection of human migration within a pandemic reality.

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Media MentionMay 18, 2020
Podcast: 'This Week in Immigration'

In a special edition of "This Week in Immigration," Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) regular Theresa Cardinal Brown sits down with BPC Fellow and University of Texas, LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Ruth Wasem to discuss the history of health provisions in U.S. immigration law, and how they have been used in the past to address pandemics as well as the current response to COVID-19.

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