Sharing the American Dream: Towards Formalizing the Status of Long-Term Resident Undocumented Children in the United States
52 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2008 Last revised: 13 May 2009
Date Written: August 21, 2008
The legal status of the estimated 1.8 million undocumented young persons currently in the United States is a pressing issue that must be addressed by lawyers and policymakers in the near future. These young people arrived in the United States at a very young age yet do not have, and cannot obtain, lawful immigration status. This article examines their complex position and advocates statutory reforms that better account for their unique developmental and cultural attachments to the United States. This article surveys the history of U.S. immigration policies in relation to undocumented youth as well as current reform proposals to argue that there is a long-standing tradition of recognizing the long-term ties of undocumented persons to the United States. Drawing upon the personal experience of the author as an active practitioner in this field as well as social science literature, this article shows that an undocumented youth's attachment to their place of residence is an essential feature of their identity. Using these insights, it concludes with proposals to apply the principles underlying jus soli citizenship to undocumented youth, granting them access to formal status.
Keywords: immigrants, immigration, youth, policy
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