ABSTRACT

Although much research has explored immigration policy, including the impact of elite rhetoric on public opinion, little scholarship has systematically examined the president’s role over immigration policy. To remedy this important limitation, this chapter introduces a comprehensive measure of presidential attention to immigration to illustrate the contours of modern presidential attention to immigration, the tone of this rhetoric, and its relationship to other key actors in the immigration policy system. Policy agendas theory and theories of going public by the president frame examination of these relationships. The president’s ability to shape the immigration policy agenda in a way that will lead to comprehensive immigration policy reform has become severely constrained by a political environment that lacks the bipartisan consensus of the 1980s. The book’s implications encourage consideration of whether comprehensive immigration reform requires presidential leadership as a top priority or whether legislative success is conditional upon existing legislative support for reform.