Focus areas: Immigration, immigrant incorporation of Latino political behavior

Professor Rodolfo de la Garza specializes in immigration, Latino political behavior, and public policy. He directs the Project on Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race and is vice-president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California. Professor de la Garza has worked on the design of programs to increase immigrant access to health services in California and evaluated the state-sponsored naturalization campaign in Texas. He has also chaired seminars on Latinos and foreign policy with emphasis on increasing Hispanic involvement in international affairs.


Research & Publications

July 2016|Social Science Quarterly |Alan Yang, Rodolfo de la Garza
November 2010|University of Notre Dame Press|Rodolfo de la Garza, Louis DeSipio, David L. Leal

Beyond the Barrio: Latinos in the 2004 Elections analyzes the mobilization of Latino voters at the state and national levels during the 2004 campaign and the efforts of Latino communities to influence electoral outcomes. The volume is the most recent installment in the quadrennial analyses of Latinos and national elections begun in 1988 by Rodolfo de la Garza and Louis DeSipio. This ongoing project is the only scholarly effort to track the emergence of Latino influence in U.S. politics over the last two decades.

The volume examines how and when Latinos were the focus of candidate/campaign mobilization, how Latinos themselves organized to influence electoral outcomes, and where and under what circumstances they succeeded. In addition to state-level analyses, Beyond the Barrio presents an analytical overview of the national presidential campaign that includes measures of Latino influence and a review of state and local contests that led to the election of Latino officials. It also extends the analysis to states with small Latino populations that are just beginning to organize. The editors consider 2004 as a "signpost" election, in which both major parties began a transition from symbolic gestures toward Latino voters to more serious, issue-related efforts to court the Latino vote.

The expertise of the contributors ensures that Beyond the Barrio avoids simple generalizations about the "Latino vote" and illustrates its complexity, as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by Latino voters and Latino leaders.

October 2009|Tomas Rivera Institute|Rodolfo de la Garza, Pablo M. Pinto, Jeronimo Cortina
November 2006|Russell Sage Foundation |Rodolfo de la Garza, Sharyn O'Halloran, David L. Epstein, Richard H. Pildes

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) stands among the great achievements of American democracy. Originally adopted in 1965, the Act extended full political citizenship to African-American voters in the United States nearly 100 years after the Fifteenth Amendment first gave them the vote. While Section 2 of the VRA is a nationwide, permanent ban on discriminatory election practices, Section 5 targets only certain parts of the country, requiring that legislative bodies in these areas--mostly southern states with a history of discriminatory practices--get permission from the federal government before they can implement any change that affects voting. In The Future of the Voting Rights Act, David Epstein, Richard Pildes, Rodolfo de la Garza, and Sharyn O'Halloran bring together leading historians, political scientists, and legal scholars to assess the role Section 5 should play in America's future.

The contributors offer varied perspectives on the debate. Samuel Issacharoff questions whether Section 5 remains necessary, citing the now substantial presence of blacks in legislative positions and the increasingly partisan enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice (DOJ). While David Epstein and Sharyn O'Halloran are concerned about political misuse of Section 5, they argue that it can only improve minority voting power and never worsen it--even with a partisan DOJ--and therefore continues to serve a valuable purpose. Other contributors argue that the achievements of Section 5 with respect to blacks should not obscure shortcomings in the protection of other groups. Laughlin McDonald argues that widespread and systematic voting discrimination against Native Americans requires that Section 5 protections be expanded to more counties in the west. Rodolfo de la Garza and Louis DeSipio point out that the growth of the Latino population in previously homogenous areas and the continued under-representation of Latinos in government call for an expanded Section 5 that accounts for changing demographics.

As its expiration date approaches, it is vital to examine the role that Section 5 still plays in maintaining a healthy democracy. Combining historical perspective, legal scholarship, and the insight of the social sciences, The Future of the Voting Rights Act is a crucial read for anyone interested in one of this year's most important policy debates and in the future of civil rights in America.