Through my time in the Ph.D. program at Georgetown, I developed a profound interest in international migration and its effects on migrant-receiving countries. I also have a longstanding interest in the European Union (EU) and the way it has transformed politics across Europe. My dissertation project focuses on the public policies adopted by democratic migrant-receiving states to address irregular migration. I am in the process of demonstrating how European integration led to the diffusion of policies adopted at the national level across EU member states throughout the postwar period. In tandem, my parallel collaborative and independent research explores various political and social impacts of international migration. Below I provide abstracts for all of my ongoing work, as well as for a report that I wrote as an intern for the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI), published in 2016 by this think tank associated with Sciences Po Paris.


Prof. Kathleen R. McNamara (Chair); Prof. Abraham L. Newman; Prof. Anna Maria Mayda (Economics); Prof. Lise M. Howard.

Why have European states done more to address irregular (i.e. illegal) migration than other democratic migrant-receiving states? Despite seeming similarities in their management of migration, for most of the postwar period European states and other democracies have adopted divergent approaches with respect to irregular migrant inflows and populations. In contrast to strategies focusing predominantly on border controls, European states and the European Union (EU) have implemented a diverse array of measures to minimize irregularity within their territories. As a result, despite greater exposure to irregular migration than the United States (US) in particular, the EU has consistently hosted a small absolute and relative population of irregular migrants. I argue that the process of European integration has led to the emergence of a comprehensive policy framework targeting irregular migration across the EU. Even before they obtained a prerogative over migration policy, EU institutions served as a forum for dialogue on migration issues and fostered the diffusion of policy innovations adopted domestically by member states. I posit the EU thus constitutes a confederal form of governance with significant consequences for policy outcomes. To test my arguments against alternative theories of migration policy evolution, I deploy a mixed-method research design involving quantitative event-history modeling of policy diffusion across states over time and qualitative process-tracing of policy development at EU institutions. Using original data regarding irregular migration policies as well as interview and archival evidence from fieldwork conducted in Brussels and Florence, I will evaluate the validity of my arguments in contrast to alternative explanations focused on the role of interest groups, public opinion, domestic political constraints, and nativist political movements. My findings will advance a novel understanding of the nature of European integration and demonstrate how institutions and diffusion shape migration policy.

Collaborative Working Papers

Are individuals aware of the distinctions between refugees, asylum seekers, authorized economic migrants, and unauthorized economic migrants? Do individuals hold different attitudes toward these groups of migrants? Does informing individuals about these distinctions change their attitudes? What are the demographic characteristics of individuals as well as of migrants that shape those attitudes? Adopting theoretical and empirical insights from the literature on public attitudes toward immigrants and immigration, we test a series of hypotheses regarding these research questions through a paired conjoint survey experiment. Our survey results demonstrate that the US population is broadly aware of the distinctions between migrant categories. In turn, informing individuals of the specific legal distinctions between migrants leads respondents to systematically prefer authorized migrants in comparison to all other migrant categories. The results are driven by the specific demographic characteristics of respondents, including age, income, extroversion, and openness to new experiences. Contrary to expectations, these results indicate that Americans generally do not have distinct preferences with respect to refugees and authorized economic migrants, even when they are broadly aware of the differences between those migrant groups – but that priming them to consider legal distinctions between migrants will lead them to systematically prefer authorized migrants.

Why do some immigrant diasporas in the US establish foreign policy interest groups while others do not? While scholars have demonstrated that diasporic interest groups often successfully influence US foreign policy, we take a step back to ask why only certain diasporas attempt to do so in the first place. We argue that two factors increase the likelihood of diaspora mobilization: a community’s experience with democratic governance and a motivating policy disturbance in its country of origin. We posit that these conditions make it more likely that political entrepreneurs emerge to serve as catalysts for top-down mobilization. To test our hypotheses, we collect and analyze novel data on diasporic lobby organizations as well as the characteristics of their respective countries of origin. In turn, we conduct the first in-depth case study of the historical and contemporary Indian-American lobby, using original archival and interview evidence.

Winner of the Martin O. Heisler Award granted by the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section (ENMISA) of the International Studies Association (ISA).

What explains variation in public support for radical-right political parties in Europe? In this paper, we argue that the emigration of high-skilled individuals from certain states, regions, and communities, has had significant and underappreciated political effects. It has been well established that individuals with certain profiles—male, elderly, less formally educated, manual laborers—are more likely to support the radical-right. We posit that the migration of high-skilled individuals to states and regions with greater opportunities for advancement in the modern, service-based digital economy thus has unexpected political ramifications; their departure leaves communities more homogenous and susceptible to radicalization. While international and national migrations are driven primarily by economic considerations, high-skilled emigration constitutes a socio-political brain drain. To test our theory we deploy cross-national census, electoral, and economic data to model popular support for radical-right parties across Europe as well as sub-national data to model support for the National Front across French Departments and Communes. Our results demonstrate that both states and sub-national administrative areas which experience high skilled emigration are more likely to exhibit substantial support for the radical-right.

What is the relationship between peacekeeping and forced displacement? Past scholarship has found that peacekeepers reduce civilian deaths and the potential for international conflict contagion, leading many to assert that they likewise mitigate both internal displacement as well as refugee flows out of conflict-ridden states. In this paper, however, we argue that the effects of peacekeeping on displacement are more nuanced. Although peacekeepers reduce the relative number of refugees fleeing a conflict zone, they also tend to increase rates of internal displacement. By making certain geographic areas within states safer than others, monitoring national borders, and directly moving populations out of dangerous regions for their safety, peacekeepers increase the likelihood that individuals will flee violence within their home state. Using data from the International Peace Institute, UNHCR, and the DPKO, we demonstrate that peacekeeping is associated with higher rates of internal displacement, but lower rates of refugee flows. We subsequently conduct a case study of displacement in the Central African Republic, demonstrating the mechanisms by which peacekeepers change incentives for individuals, leading more to flee violence within states as opposed to seeking refuge abroad.

How do refugee and irregular migrant flows respond to the external migration and asylum policies of the European Union (EU)? In the past decade the EU and its member states have been increasingly seeking to stem migration to Europe through the use of “externalization” policies, including readmission agreements and development aid packages which emphasize border security in migrant-sending states. It is unclear, however, whether these measures have had their intended effects. In this paper, we focus on the spatial and categorical distribution of mobile individuals from 2009 to 2019 and we argue that externalization policies, although partially effective at reducing overall rates of emigration from targeting migrant-sending states, have primarily led to shifts in the routes that migrants choose to take in order to reach Europe, and have disproportionately affected likely asylum seekers rather than likely irregular migrants. To test our argument we examine migration flows since 2009, which covers the period of the so-called “migrant” or “refugee crisis” of 2015, and thus offers a unique context in which to study the relationship between migration policies and flows. Using new data on European externalization policies, as well as data from the UNHCR, IOM, Eurostat, and Frontex regarding migration flows, we demonstrate that the implementation of externalization policies triggered several successive shifts in the routes taken by migrants from affected origin states and mainly affected the asylum seekers who were seeking to reach Europe. We supplement our quantitative analyses with interviews of migrants who made the journey to Europe since 2009, demonstrating how they took EU policies into consideration when making choices regarding their migration.

Part of the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme funded MAGYC (Migration Governance and Asylum Crises) Project – Work Package 8.1 – Grant Agreement No. 822806.

Independent Working Papers

What are the ways in which international phenomena reshape the domestic politics of states? In this study, I argue that humanitarian aid delivered in response to refugee crises aggravates the underlying apprehension individuals feel toward refugees, fueling resentment and instigating social unrest. Using panel data covering 206 countries from 1990-2015, I conduct OLS regression analyses to assess the relationship between refugee flows, humanitarian aid, and incidences of social unrest in refugee host states. My models include an interaction term between the size of refugee populations and aggregate amounts of humanitarian aid, given that the latter is expected to be associated with social unrest primarily when delivered in response to substantial refugee crises. I find evidence in support of the hypothesized relationship. My findings call for further exploration of the underlying relationships as well as for a shift in the modalities of humanitarian aid delivery so that it better addresses the concerns and well-being of local communities which host refugees.


Accessible Here.


Fossil Fuel Subsidies are Highly Prevalent Worldwide and Have Numerous Adverse Effects. Estimates regarding the amount of public funds utilized to subsidize the production or consumption of fossil fuels are staggering. For 2011, they range from $83 billion in OECD member states, to nearly $4.1 trillion world­wide if environmental externalities are considered. Numerous studies have demonstrated that subsidies repress economic growth, undermine energy sector investment, increase public debt, benefit wealthy citizens over the poor, instigate a rise in illicit activities, and engender greater global and local pollution.

Momentum for Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform has been Growing and Non-Household Consumers have been Integrated into Reform Efforts. The negative effects of fossil fuel subsidies have led numerous govern­ments to reform their energy policies. There has also been a growing international consensus in favor of reform. While the components of successful reform programs have been identified through past case studies, the nature of reforms adopted by several governments that target non-households have not been systematically examined.

The Indonesian Case: Non-Households Remain Significant Beneficiaries of Subsidies Despite Targeted Policies. Since the late 1990s, the Indonesian government has implemented numerous reforms of its fossil fuel subsidies, including measures targeting household as well as non-household energy consumption. In doing so, it has incurred significant fiscal savings. However, an innovative budgetary analysis reveals that households receive a minority, and a declining share, of fossil fuel subsidy funds. This is the case despite the fact that subsi­dies were implemented to ensure poor households have access to cheap energy. These findings demonstrate the need to consider non-household sectors in the design of fossil fuel subsidy reforms. They also highlight the limitations of conventional policy approaches and past studies of reforms which focus almost exclusively on household consumption.