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 Nonprofits)

Ruth Ellen Wasem is a professor of public policy practice teaching courses on immigration and citizenship policies, refugee and human security policies, immigrant incorporation, and legislative development. Her publications span academic journals, books and policy institute reports. Recent publications include Toward a Better Immigration System: Fixing Immigration Governance at the Department of Homeland Security, co-authored with Doris Meissner, (2021); "More than a Wall: The Rise and Fall of U.S. Asylum and Refugee Policy" (Journal of Migration and Human Security, 2020); and "At the Nexus of Refugee and Labour Migration" (Journal of Migration History, 2020). She is currently the principal investigator for the Immigrant Incorporation Research Project, which studies local governments' policies aimed at integrating foreign-born residents into the civic life of the community. She and the LBJ graduate students working with her have published reports on Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas. She is also affiliated with the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

Wasem has testified before the U.S. Congress on asylum, legal immigration, human rights and unauthorized migration. She has been heard on NPR's "All Things Considered," PRI's "The World," KUT's "Morning Edition," TPR "The Source" and "The Texas Standard." The Atlantic, Bloomberg Government, Politico, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, San Diego Union Tribune and Dallas Morning News are among the print media that have cited her.

For more than 25 years, Wasem was a legislative policy specialist at the U.S. Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service (CRS). Wasem continues to be engaged in Washington, DC, as a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and as an opinion contributor to The Hill.

Wasem earned masters and doctoral degrees in history at the University of Michigan and received her baccalaureate degree magna cum laude from Muskingum University.

Media Expertise
  • Immigration


NewsAugust 19, 2021
Immigrants face inclusion challenges in Austin, analysis shows

As immigrants move to Austin, they may face several challenges. A new analysis from public policy researchers at The University of Texas at Austin shows that although measures of legal support, government leadership and community put Austin at 43 out of the 100 largest cities in 2020 for immigrant incorporation, the city falls below average on measures of civic participation, livability and job opportunities. Additionally, Austin's naturalization rate is one of the lowest among its peers.

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FeatureAugust 13, 2021
Fall 2021 classes focus on topics from intelligence and foreign policy to Black politics and COVID

In many ways, "public policy" world is as varied as the people who practice it. There is no one path to it; thinkers and doers pursue their passion for service for so many different reasons. The LBJ School was founded to improve the quality of public service in the United States and abroad at all levels of governance and civic engagement. We practice this through interdisciplinary scholarship, hands-on experience and a customizable educational experience that allows students to develop unique skills and expertise.

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Media MentionJuly 14, 2021
How Texas keeps trying to block Biden on immigration

Ruth Wasem spoke to CNN about how lawmakers in Texas are trying to block the Biden administration on immigration.

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