PolicyAnalysis: Alternatives to Address the Needs of Undocumented Youths
PolicyAnalysis: Alternatives to Address the Needs of Undocumented Youths
Undocumentedyouths refer to immigrants who lack legal documentation in theircountry of residence. Majority of them are mainly unaccompanied, withmost arriving in the new countries without their family, which meansthat they are all alone in a new life. Majority of them face so manychallenges back at home which forces them to run into the U.S. toseek refuge and a better life. Unfortunately, at the same time, theyface a lot of victimization in the new land. Without legaldocumentation, the challenges are further accelerated, especiallywhen they try to find a job or seek education. This paper seeks tounderstand the alternative policies set in U.S. meant to addresstheir needs and the application across the states while at the sametime comparing these policies with the rest of the developedcountries.
Inthe recent past, the number of youths, particularly unaccompaniedimmigrant in the U.S.A., has been on the rise with the majority beingfrom the South countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico(Alvarez & Alegria, 2016). Due to this high number ofundocumented youths living in the U.S., there is need to ensure thattheir needs, especially those pertaining to education and socialwellbeing, are addressed. Through the enactment of various statutes,some of their necessities have been settled, mostly for youths whocame to the country when they were children below the age of 16 yearsbefore June 2007 (Dream Project, 2016). Despite the Acts being madeat a federal level, practice in the various states is done using theapproaches that each government deems fit. The variations are mainlydue to the unequal numbers of undocumented youths per state withTexas, California, Florida, and 13 more others having the highestpopulations (Perez, 2014).
Furthermore,the Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was passed bythe Obama administration where it seeks to make it easy forundocumented youths to access education and job opportunities withoutthe constant fear of deportation. Since the Act came into practice,the recorded number of these immigrants who have registered forcollege has increased, especially due to several states applying itto ensure easy access to education (Pew Research Center, 2014). Everyyouth (15-30 years) who meets the conditions set by the statutequalifies to be in the program, which makes it possible to livewithin the country for two years without being deported. However, itdoes not mean that they gain citizenship. The application of DACAacross the U.S. is rated similar with a report done by the PewResearch Center (2014) estimating that at 86 % of the applicantssubmitted by March 2014 had been approved. The report further showsthat California had the highest number of DACA recipients, which ishigher than that of Texas with other states coming behind tocontribute to the total national number (Pew Research Center, 2014).
Ontop of that, the reception of the law across the states has beendifferent with California being the most accepting where DACArecipients have access to driving licenses and medical insurance.Maryland has also been tolerant by going to an extent of making itillegal to question immigration status. Other accepting states areTexas, Illinois, and Virginia (Immigration Direct, 2017). However,some states have been opposing including Nebraska which does notissue driving licenses to DACA recipients and Arizona where the banagainst migrants was lifted since those with DACA are legally in theU.S. and should receive most state based privileges though in-statetuition remains a problem in some states (Dream Project, 2016).
TheDACA Act, which came into existence way after the creation of theDREAM Act, makes it easy for the latter to be applied, especially instates where immigrants could not receive education and jobopportunities. The Development, Relief, and Education for AlienMinors (DREAM) was first enacted back in 2001 but has continuouslyfailed though the existence of DACA makes it easy for it to beapplied (Dream Project, 2016). The DREAM Act makes it easy for theimmigrants to access education, particularly post-secondary by makingit easy for them to be admitted in state universities and inreceiving tuition support. The law is applied at state level whichmeans that its application is different based on the state thoughmost apply it by awarding undocumented students access to in-statetuition and other financial benefits for their education (Perez,2014).
Amongthe states that have applied this statute include Texas, which hasbeen very welcoming to its undocumented immigrants by allowing themaccess to in-state tuition. The California Dream Act also allowsstudents in higher education institutions to apply for scholarshipsand in-state tuition fee (National Conference of State Legislature,2015). Other states that have managed to allow in-state tuition forundocumented students are New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, andNebraska (Immigration Direct, 2017). Though the DREAM Act has failedto pass at a national level, several states have integrated it intotheir systems to ensure that undocumented youths receive educationopportunities similar to those of citizens. Following graduation, theimmigrants who are still register under DACA are credible to get jobsand driving licenses, which makes transition easy at least for twoyears (Immigration Direct, 2017).
TheU.S. is not the only country that has an issue with high populationof undocumented youths with others facing similar increases,particularly due to the rise of terror refugees. The United Kingdomis one of the nations where there has been an influx in the number ofimmigrant children who have moved there seeking refuge due to war intheir countries, especially from the Middle East. The undocumentedyouths such as those in the U.S. face constant fear of deportationunless they acquire legal documents. Access to higher education isparticularly hard due to the lack of documents since the policiesthat exists only cover for education to secondary school which meansthat unless they get proper documentation, they cannot attend college(Puffett, 2012). Eventually, this puts the U.S. ahead of the UK inprotecting the needs of undocumented youths.
Apartfrom that, a report by Wilton (2015) on the Montreal Gazette bringsout the state of undocumented youths in Canada which neighbors theU.S. to the north where the issue of illegal immigrants has also beenon the rise. According to the information, there have been policiesprotecting the youths, such as the 2007 Toronto “Don’s ask, don’ttell” policy which made it possible for students to go to schoolwithout fear of their legal status. The rule made gave a chance forall immigrants to attend school since the legal details were not partof admission (Wilton, 2015). In fact, this is similar to how somestates in the U.S. chose to apply the DACA Act by making it illegalto ask about immigrant status. Additionally, the existing QuebecEducation Act allows only given categories of immigrants to accessfree education which is similar to how the DACA operates by allowingonly recipients to attend school like other citizens (Wilton, 2015).
Additionally,countries within the European Union have differing approaches to theneeds of their population of undocumented youths with Belgium, Italy,and the Dutch countries allowing for education in their legislation.Spain and Poland, on the other hand, are keen to list undocumentedchildren as part of the entire children population meaning they havea right to education, while those in Hungary are restricted from anyform of education due to lack of documentation. It is with thisreference that it is clear about the state of undocumented youths inthe EU where the access to most basic rights, such as education, ishard without documentation (United Nations, 2016). For this reason,most immigrants keep trying to acquire legal documents for them tostay in the country of face deportation, which is unlike the US whereonly DACA can guarantee temporary stay but not legal documentationsince the DREAM Act failed to pass.
Allin all, compared to the other countries, the US seems to have madethe highest efforts in ensuring the rights and needs of undocumentedyouths are maintained in line with the provisions of theinternational law. In addition to ensuring that they receive thebasic K-12 education, the DREAM and DACA Acts have served as beaconsin ensuring that education does not stop at high school but continuesinto higher institutions and further into employment. Though thereare states that are yet to effectively apply the Acts, majority havedone their best to ensure that the plight of these immigrants isheard, which has made life easier for most of them while at the sametime benefiting the economy especially at state level.
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