Using Math to Predict Chances of Immigration Reform

Using statistical models, Tom Wong aptly predicted the outcome of the Senate’s vote on immigration reform. According to the Los Angeles Times, Wong wants to use mathematics and statistics to influence lawmakers on the benefits of reforming the nation’s immigration system. Wong sees a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants already living in the country illegally as likely to burn out in the House of Representatives.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Wong didn’t know he wasn’t an American citizen until his parents told him why he couldn’t get a driver’s license or attend a basketball tournament in Canada at the age of 16. Wong received a green card and became an American citizen after marrying his high-school girlfriend in March 2001. He was eventually able to begin classes at the University of California Riverside.

All of these events encouraged Wong to develop a graphic representation of the statistical probabilities of lawmakers’ votes. The statistics account for solid yeses and nos as well as the chances of a lawmaker switching sides, the article stated. There are also those lawmakers who end up in the middle, and can be the targets for immigration advocates who want to encourage them to vote yes for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship.

Wong can generate a custom analysis for a number of different issues, including a statistic on which lawmakers might be receptive to an argument based on their religious faith, the Los Angeles Times reported. Many political scientists are familiar with his equations, however, not many use the same models to evaluate immigration reform.

“It helps to know where you’re starting from, that this is a member on the fence, or who has had the population in the district change dramatically and so might have a different approach to immigration than in the past,” Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said of Wong’s equations.

According to the source, Wong’s predictions for a comprehensive bill include 203 yes votes, with 218 needed to pass. His analysis also found that the House is unlikely to pass a measure that would include a path to citizenship.