Unauthorized Americans and European Outcasts
35 Pages Posted: 24 May 2014 Last revised: 6 Aug 2015
Date Written: May 22, 2014
The United States is home to a generation of whom this Article refers to as “unauthorized Americans” - illegally present young adults who were brought or sent to the United States when they were children. These immigrants tend to demonstrate a high level of integration into mainstream U.S. society, but they cannot fully integrate or participate in U.S. society due to their undocumented status. Immigration reform is slow in coming and grudging in what it is willing to offer. In the event that it is not forthcoming or that it occurs too late for thousands of young adults, what is the result? What happens to a generation of U.S.-educated, fully integrated Americans who are not actually Americans? What message does it send to the next generation of children brought to the United States by their parents, encouraged to do well in school, and exposed to a culture that consumes and envelops them and then rejects them once they are adults?
This Article looks to Europe as one potential source of answers to that question. This Article explores the integration challenges of British, French, and German citizens of ethnically diverse descent and of undocumented immigrants in the United States who have been raised in the United States since childhood. The Article compares European obstacles to integration, which are primarily cultural, to U.S. obstacles to integration, which are primarily legal. The Article argues that by failing to remove legal barriers to full integration, the United States is poised to have cultural barriers to integration develop and proliferate that are more difficult to correct than legal barriers.
JEL Classification: F22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation