In this paper, we examine patterns of congressional action and inaction on immigration issues in the USA over the past two decades, with attention to the impact of partisan polarisation and examples of the effects of public opinion on members’ votes and the immigration agenda itself. Our analysis covers 391 immigration policy votes between 1993 and 2012. Analysing 10 Congresses allows us to test hypotheses about the effects of partisan polarisation on immigration policy-making in Congress over time. Congressional attention to immigration issues has waxed and waned, and relatively few bills were enacted in the period under study, although there were a considerable number of procedural votes on immigration measures. The relatively short list of enacted legislation over the 20-year period is due to the mechanisms that exist for stifling major change such as comprehensive immigration reform. On the other hand, in 2012 pressure for meaningful immigration reform increased as the result of powerful proreform coalitions, and the rising importance of a constituency of Latino voters.
- Immigration USA