Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Melinda A. Mueller


The research focus of this study is the voting behavior of the elected members of the United States House of Representatives on the issue of national immigration. This work specifically focuses on selected immigration roll call votes taken during the 99th and 104th Congresses. An examination of the voting behavior of the 435 elected representatives from each year will be examined by considering eight hypotheses that question the immigration voting behavior of various sub groups within congress.

During the 1980s and 1990s Congress took several major legislative actions in regards to the issue of national immigration. It was hypothesized that not only the tone, but the voting manner of the United States House of Representatives, has become more restrictive on immigration issues during that period. In examining the results of the hypothesis a clear distinction between the voting behavior of the House in 1986, and the voting behavior of the House in 1996 became apparent. Also, the Republican party has clearly become more supportive of greater immigration controls, whereas their Democrat counterparts have remained constant in their support for less restrictive immigration policies. In a final analysis of the two Houses a pattern of polarization in immigration voting was evident, with the majority of movement being towards the more restrictive end of the scale.

In conclusion it was found that support for more restrictive immigration policies has grown between the 99th Congress and the 104th Congress, and that this support has not been confined solely to the Republican party. It was also found that immigration has become a more divisive issue, both within the two parties and within the House overall. A more conservative viewpoint on immigration is now the norm in the United States House of Representatives.