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Ruth Wasem

Fellow, Immigration Project

Headshot of Ruth Wasem

Ruth Ellen Wasem is a fellow with BPC’s Immigration Project. She is currently a Professor of Policy Practice (Clinical Professor) at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, where she teaches courses on immigration policy and legislative development. For more than 25 years, Wasem was an immigration policy specialist at the U.S. Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service. She has testified before the US Congress on asylum policy, legal immigration trends, human rights, and the push-pull forces on unauthorized migration.

Wasem currently is researching asylum and the rise of the political right, and she presented research papers on various aspects of the topic in Italy and Belgium over the summer of 2017 and at the Global Labor Migration Conference in The Netherlands in June 2019. Wasem is completing a book about the legislative drive to end race- and nationality-based immigration with research funding from the John Kluge Center of the U.S. Library of Congress and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. From this research, she has published “The Undertow of Reforming Immigration,” for A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: The U.S. in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965, (University of Illinois Press, 2019). Wasem also has a book contract for “Ebb and Flow: US Immigration Policy over Time,” a history of migration to the United States and the evolution of US immigration policy. Other recent publications include “Immigration Governance for the 21st Century,” in the Journal of Migration and Human Security, (Sage, 2018); “The US Visa Waiver Program: Facilitating Travel and Enhancing Security,” (Chatham House, 2017), “Welfare and Public Benefits” in American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change, 2nd Edition, (M.E. Sharpe, 2014), and Tackling Unemployment: The Legislative Dynamics of the Employment Act of 1946 (Upjohn Institute Press, 2013).

Wasem’s reputation has led to numerous speaking engagements, public panels, and participation in academic conferences. She is a contributing opinion writer for and has been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI’s The World, KUT’s Morning Edition, and The Texas Standard. The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, and Dallas Morning News are among the print media that have cited her.

Wasem earned masters and doctoral degrees in history at the University of Michigan, largely funded by the Institute for Social Research.