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Dr. Michael Rivera: Investigating the Driving Forces of Immigration Policy

Leonard Moore

Michael-Rivera-headshot_finalDr. Michael Rivera, assistant professor, Department of Government and Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, specializes in research on immigration policy and the intersection of race and ethnic politics.

Born in the San Francisco Bay area, Dr. Rivera is especially interested in American voter behavior and how perceptions about Hispanics and other racial and ethnic minorities shape our political leanings.

Research interests developed at a young age… “My research interests in immigration developed early in life. I went to a predominantly Latino high school and many of my family members immigrated from Mexico.” Dr. Rivera, a first generation college graduate, continued his study at The University of California, Davis where he received a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish and later a PhD in Political Science from The University of California, San Diego.

The growth of pro and anti-immigrant legislation… In his book project, The Politics of U.S. State Immigration Policy: Public Opinion and Representation, Dr. Rivera explores how public opinion influences state immigration policy. “In response to a growing immigrant population, some states pass policies that restrict the rights of immigrants; however, I find that as growing Hispanic populations become electorally relevant, the anti-immigrant legislative wave reverses.”

The importance of increasing mobilization efforts… “This research is important because this changing legislative tide might help increase feelings of political efficacy among minorities and help with political mobilization efforts.  It is particularly important that immigrants have a say on this issue that affects their daily lives.  We should continue to emphasize communication with legislatures and both formal and informal political participation.”