Immigration Policy and Partisan Politics in the State Legislatures: 2010-2012
Jones, Mark P.
One point upon which virtually everyone can agree is that the current U.S. immigration system is broken. Partially in response to federal inaction in the area of immigration reform, between 2010 and 2012 legislatures in a number of states took it upon themselves to debate and, in some instances approve, restrictive omnibus legislation designed to address the presence of undocumented immigrants within their respective borders. This study utilizes roll-call vote data from these legislatures to examine the partisan, ethnic/racial and regional dynamics surrounding the debate over this restrictive omnibus immigration legislation in these states. We highlight the extremely partisan nature of the votes on this legislation, with virtually all Republicans supporting the omnibus bills and an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposing. While there is little intra-party variance in Republican support, among Democrats rural Anglo legislators were significantly more likely than their colleagues to break with the party majority and side with GOP legislators in support of restrictive immigration reform legislation.
Working paper presented at the Baker Institute Latin America Initiative conference "Immigration Reform: A System for the 21st Century."