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Comparative Analysis of Undocumented Youth Policies in America

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Case Study #1 – Comparative analysis of undocumented youth policies in America


Since the attack of September 11th, 2001, our country has continued to struggle with tightening our borders and focused on immigration policies.  Included in all that are the undocumented youth that reside in the United States due to illegal immigration.  Now the struggle of continuing with current immigration relief and adding new legislation for undocumented youth that based on these acts would entitle them to higher education, grants, U.S. citizenship, no tax repercussions, no military qualifications, etc.  Here we review the side by side comparison of how these acts impact the undocumented youth.  Ultimately, this will remain an ongoing issue as our current border issue has escalated within this past year with no relief in sight.

Description of the Recognizing Americas Children Act

H.R. 1468 was introduced by Republican Carlos Curbelo from Florida on March 9th, 2017 along with several others.  The purpose of H.R. 1468 was to cease the removal of qualified aliens who have entered the United States as children and under certain provisions that they may qualify for, allow them to remain in the United States (Curbelo et al, 2017).  H.R. 1468 is known as the Recognizing America’s Children Act (RAC) and gives power to the Department Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS would not remove nonimmigrant children. There would be conditional terms for nonimmigrant children and over the course of a five-year period under alien status these nonimmigrant children would need to meet these certain parameters.  Below are some examples within the Recognizing American’s Children Act that these nonimmigrant children would need to abide by:

a)      16 or younger since January 1, 2012 when they entered the United States.

b)     has good moral character;

c)      cannot be able to be deported/inadmissible;

d)     cannot have committed any crimes while they have been in the United States;

e)      18 or older and have some certification of education or credentials to work in the United States;

f)       be of good moral character (Curbelo et al, 2017).

If an alien is seeking relief and would like to stay under the H.B. 1468 Recognizing America’s Children Act, they will need to:

  1. register for the selective service, (if required);
  2. see a physician and be reviewed for a medical examination;
  3. be required to submit any and all identifying and demographic data related to oneself;
  4. submit for a complete background check (Curbelo et al, 2017).

Department of Homeland Security under qualifying circumstances of the age of 18 years old, has the ability to terminate or extend the status from nonimmigrant back to alien.  Conditional nonimmigrants have the ability to file their current state to be changed to lawful permanent resident.  By doing so, this allows the alien for additional filings.  Those whose status is lawful permanent resident can apply for naturalization once they have completed all proper protocols for immigration law requirements.

Description of the American Hope Act

H.R. 3591 was introduced by Republican Luis Gutierrez from Illinois along with several others in an attempt to amend the current Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.  This bill was introduced on July 28, 2017.  The goal of this bill is to qualify illegal immigrant for residency in the United States and provide higher educational rights and resources for all who entered the United States regardless of lawful status as children (Gutierrez et al, 2017).  Furthermore, this bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to stop removing children who have entered the United States as of 2017.  If an immigrant’s status has been changed to what is called conditional permanent-resident status, this would indicate that they are permissible for eight years in the United States and thereafter be subject and deported (Gutierrez et al, 2017).  Additional requirements of this bill are:

  1. for DHS to create a grant to assist in aiding immigrants becoming conditional permanent-residents;
  2. a Presidential award for businesses helps promote immigrants becoming Americans;
  3. the Department of Education to establish an English program in electronic format;
  4. certain requirements for financial aid with higher education for conditional permanent-residents;
  5. Government Accountability office to report statistics in relation to this bill (Gutierrez et al, 2017).


Both the Recognizing Americas Children and the Americas Hope Act have in common is to cease the removal immigrant children.  These acts are both governed by the Department of Homeland Security.   Inadmissibility waivers are accepted under both acts for certain situations.  Both acts require full background check conducted by the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Each act requires a full Government Accountability report be conducted no later than seven years from the enacted date of each act.  Each act has an exclusive jurisdiction clause that states the Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General will work in conjunction to oversee any deportation proceedings.  The acts have a qualifying removal clause that specifies each permanent resident may apply for removal of this condition as long as they have met specific requirements.


In one of the differences that stood out was the American Hope Act of 2017 enforces an educational component in their act as part of a requirement for maintaining state residency oppose to the Recognizing America’s Children Act which only states that nonimmigrants need to have acquired a level of education or working credentials.  Another difference is the Recognizing America’s Children Act requires the cancellation of the removal of children in 2012; whereas the American Hope Act states requires the cancellation of the removal of children in 2016.  The American Hope Act has built in a grant to help aid the permanent residents of immigrants.  The Recognizing America’s Children has not or has a funding source to assist.  The American Hope Act has created a Presidential Award for businesses that strive to promote their employees who are immigrants becoming Americans and achieving higher academic learning along with knowing the English language.  Age limits that differ between the two are Recognizing America’s Children must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and the American Hope Act required entering the United states before the age of 18.  The Recognizing America’s Children Act has imbedded a clause that states all those that qualify under this act are still required to adhere to all applicable Federal tax guidelines.  The American Hope Act states no such taxes are required to be paid or owed if past due.  Conditional permanent resident travel is allowed for up to 180 through the Recognizing American’s Children Act, yet under not calculated in break of departure from the United States under the American Hope Act.  The American Hope Act has no Education or Military track application guidelines, but the Recognizing America’s Children Act does and allows for this process to be part of their naturalization.  The process for naturalization differs on both acts.  The Recognizing American’s Children initial period is five years and for American Hope Act is eight years.


History of the problem

Immigration has been a long-term issue and has been further defined by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.  This day defined how our immigration laws have been either lax or non-existent regarding enforcement.  Several states decided to create such laws in order to conduct lawful stops on undocumented immigrants (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  Arizona had created SB1070 which is an anti-immigration bill that is targeting illegal immigrants and gives law enforcement the reasonable suspicion to check the immigration status of a person (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  Furthermore, several states decided to mirror their laws similar to Arizona.  This expanded to confirmation of status upon enrollment in schools.  Before you know it, illegal immigrants were being identified all over.  By the end of 2011, 304,678 possible migrants had the ability to be removed (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  The concern became if the ones identified had any criminal sanctions filed against them.  Potentially, half of the 304,678 had either a traffic offense or a misdemeanor offense (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  By classifying the immigrants based on crimes committed, processing them via Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), this was supposed to enhance the speed and removal of immigrants.  This system entered nearly seven million people by the year 2011 (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  This further complicated the issue as families who lived in mixed households or are U.S. born youth began to face hardships due to being part of families that are undocumented.  Many judicial factors began to take notice and initiatives were being created, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Bridge Act, Recognizing America’s Children Act (RAC), Dream Act, America’s Hope Act to just name a few.  The focus was to remove the illegal immigrants and in hindsight, the effect on the youth had not been factored in.  Ultimately, to not exploit the youth in regard to further deportation, judicial immigration judges granted juveniles the ability to remain in the United States (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).

How is the problem measured?


Based on a study conducted by Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun in regard to youth deportation hearings included undocumented youth from several South American countries. The problem begins to be measured based on the information collected for when the undocumented youth entered into the United States and then permitted to stay.  The statistical information which is highlighted explains the undocumented youth from the countries El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.  In the year 2005, 866 juveniles were allowed to stay, in 2006 939 were allowed to stay, in 2007, 998 were allowed to stay, in 2008, 978 were allowed to stay, in 2009, 1074 were allowed to stay, in 2010, 1454 were allowed to stay, in 2011, 1374 were allowed to stay, in 2012, 2634 were allowed to stay, in 2013, 4158 were allowed to stay, in 2014 3004 were allowed to stay in the United States (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  Between the years 2005-2014 cases remained pending, were closed, had prosecutorial discretion, were granted relief or terminated.  The largest increase was in the year 2013 and came from the country El Salvador (Amuedo-Dorantes & Puttitanun, 2018).  Looking at this data allows for policy makers to take into account the issues within each countries origin and current political standing within that country.  In addition, judges also have to take into account the criminal justice element of undocumented youth and the impact that has on our already cumbersome juvenile justice system.  As you can see, this is an ongoing issue that needs a remedy that works.  This current issue is not going anywhere and based on recent press and presidential attraction can only get worse.




Legislators have introduced several potential undocumented youth acts for consideration.  As each of their proposals are considered and go through committee overview, the question becomes is there a once size fits all for undocumented youth?  As each of these acts were compared, are undocumented youth entitled more rights or fewer guidelines than our American born children?  If they are allowed to stay, what happens to their deported guardians? How are they to support themselves? Each act has merit and intended on aiding undocumented youth that had no hand in asking to come to the United States.  Ultimately, we are supposed to be the land of the free, which is what every American’s foundation wishes to create their own dream on.  Seems as though there are more questions than answers and we are in need of more solutions, quickly.





  • Cavanagh, C, & Cauffman, E. (April 2015)The Land of the Free: Undocumented Families in the Juvenile Justice System. Law and Human Behavior, Vol 39(2), 152-161. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000097




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