Baker Institute scholar available to comment on immigration reform vote

David Ruth

Amy Hodges

Baker Institute scholar available to comment on immigration reform vote

HOUSTON — (June 27, 2013) — As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on a major overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, Tony Payan, a scholar for immigration and border studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is available to discuss immigration issues in the U.S.

“The U.S. Senate voted on the immigration reform bill introduced by the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators, earlier in the year,” Payan said. “The bill appears to be headed for passage in the Senate today, and the number of votes it obtains is a crucial factor as it arrives in the House of Representatives, which has already been marking up the bill. Although the House is not likely to take up the bill until after the summer recess, immigration reform appears much closer than it did just a few months ago.”

Payan said this decision will soon determine the fate of millions of undocumented migrants.

“If the bill passes, the border will experience a security investment surge; domestic enforcement will be beefed up and the visa system itself will undergo important changes, essentially opening migration opportunities for some but closing them for other groups,” he said.

Payan said the bill marks the first major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system since 1986.

“The bill’s passage could constitute a consolidation of Hispanic support for the Democratic Party or, alternatively, neutralize the Hispanic electoral threat for the Republican Party,” he said. “What is true after the Senate vote is that the stakes are higher for Congress, President Obama, both political parties and the nation as a whole.”

In addition to being a Baker Institute scholar, Payan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso and serves on the graduate faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. His area of study is international relations, with an emphasis on U.S. and Mexican foreign policy and U.S.-Mexico relations. Payan’s recent Baker Institute paper, “The Immigration Debate in Texas: The Counterintuitive Case for Moderation,” studied the state of Texas’ response to undocumented immigration in comparison with other local governments nationwide and in the face of federal inaction.

The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Jones or Payan. For more information, contact Amy Hodges, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at or 713-348-6777.

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.