Module 3: The Facts and Current Debate about Unauthorized Immigration to the US

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 to Thursday, May 31, 2018

After reviewing a brief history of immigration to the US, students will turn to current situation of both authorized and unauthorized migration.  Chapter 3, “Unauthorized Migration to the United States,” and Chapter 4, “The Current Debate,” focus on the current debate for and against immigration, particularly unauthorized migration.  In completing this view of See, a range of issues – facts and claims - arising from the current debate will be considered. 

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Course materials

Learning Objectives

Review the role of immigration in the history and development of the United States.

Investigate the three most common arguments against migration to the U.S. and the research and accompanying data associated with each claim.

Explore the ethical dimensions and dilemmas from which are encountered when considering migration.


Modules resources are being added and subject to further changes.

Primary Resources

How Did We Arrive at Where We are Today


Facts About Immigration and the U.S. Economy provides essential background on the immigrant population; its impact on the economy, the workforce, and government budgets; why increasing numbers of unaccompanied children are arriving at the US-Mexico border; and U.S. labor migration policy.  Authors: Daniel Costa, David Cooper, and Heidi Shierholz, from the Economic Policy Institute.  Published: August 12, 2014.  


The “Unintended Consequences of US Immigration Policy: Explaining the Post-1965 Surge from Latin America.”  Authors: Douglas Massey and Karen Pren.  Source: Population and development review 38.1.  Published: 2012. Pages: 1-29.   


Life and Debt: A Film documents the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on developing countries such as Jamaica.  Director: Stephanie Black.  Time: 86 minutes.  Released: June 24, 2003. 


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) versus Creation of a Just, Global Community 

- Read Mexico’s Corn Farmers, an interview about farmers' protest in the streets.  Author:  Lorne Matalon.  Source: PRI’s the World.  Broadcast: January 15, 2008.  

- Watch Dying to Get In: Undocumented Immigration at the U.S./Mexico Border, a documentary of the destruction of Mexican farmers' livelihood and the experience of migrating: why they leave their homes, their faith, and the challenges they face.  Director: Brett Tolley.  Time: 39:36 minutes.  Posted: April 15, 2015.


Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero and Perhaps Less analyzes “the magnitude and trend of migration flows between Mexico and the United States; the experiences and intentions of Mexican immigrants repatriated by U.S. immigration authorities; U.S. immigration enforcement patterns; conditions in Mexico and the U.S. that could affect immigration; and characteristics of Mexican-born immigrants in the U.S.” Authors: Jeffrey S. Passel, D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, the Pew Hispanic Center. Published April 23, 2012.

The Economic Contribution of Immigrants


Open for Business: How Immigrants are Driving Small Business Creation in the United States “analyzes the expanding role that immigrant entrepreneurs play in our economy."  Author: Robert W. Fairlie, The Partnership for a New American Economy.  Published: August 2012.  37 pages. 


Are Immigrants a Shot in the Arm for the Local Economy?” Yes, they "can raise native worker’s real wages, and each immigrant can create more than one job.”  Authors: Gihoon Hong and John McLaren.  Source: NBER Working Paper No. 21123.  Published: April 2015.  


Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World."   Published: originally in Insight, February 18, 2002; currently available through the CATO Institute.  


Immigrants are reinventing the economy by filing for patents, boosting innovation, and winning Nobel Prizes.  

US Government Policies and Strategies


Vision and Strategy 2020: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Strategic Plan outlines the agency’s core values, mission and vision statements, four strategic goals and associated objectives, and strategies for managing risk.  Published: March 2015.  46 pages.  


History of Border Patrol Staffing: 1992- 2016

Border Patrol Budget History: 1990 - 2016 


Operation Streamline: Ten Years of Criminalizing Immigrants discusses the controversial federal program of “systematic prosecution of unlawful border crossings in group hearings with little-to-no due process.”  Author: Joshua Briesblatt, American Immigration Council.  Published: December 15, 2015.   


A Comparison of the DREAM* Act and Other Proposals for Undocumented Youth explores the differences between the DREAM Act, the ARMS Act, and the STARS Act and focuses on the implications of a direct path to permanent residency.  The assumption that the regular immigration system offers a solution for undocumented youth is examined.  Source:  The American Immigration Council.  Published: June 5, 2012. 

U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


K-Visa for Nonimmigrants

The K-visa category of the Green Card is “for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying minor children (K-1 and K-2 visas) … to speed up the immigration process for such individuals so they could travel more quickly to the United States.” 


H-1B Visa – for Foreign Workers in Specialty Occupations

Everything You Need to Know about the H-1B Visa” discusses the challenges employers face.  Author: Zoe Henry.  Source: Inc.  Published: March 2016.  


Information for Employers and Employees for the FY2017 H-1B Cap Count


USCIS Reaches FY2017 H-1B Capseven days after the application window opened.  Source: New Release. Posted: April 7, 2016. 


Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, Costing the U.S. Jobs.”  Author: Julia Preston.  Source: New York Times.  Posted: November 10, 2015. 


H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program

The H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural employers is overseen by the United States Department of Labor. 


California Farmers (are) Short of Labor and Patience.”  Author: Jennifer Medina.  Source: New York Times.  Posted: March 29, 2014. 


A fourth-generation dairy farmer discusses “the misconception that foreign workers displace US workers, challenges with the current H-2A application process, and experienced workers” in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee of the Judiciary’ Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation.  7 pages.  Hearing/Report Date: April 22, 2013.


Instead of eliminating incentives for illegal aliens to cross into Georgia, passage of its immigration enforcement bill has unintentionally harmed both immigrants and native residents alike.  Author: Benjamin Powell.  Source:  Posted: May 17, 2012. 


US - Mexico Border Security


This Is What the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall Actually Looks Like.”  Author/Photographer: James Whilow Delano.  Source: National Geographic.  Published: March 4, 2016. 


'Best of luck with the wall.'  View all 2,000 miles of the Mexican border... and see just how hard it will be to block it off illegal migration.  Director: Josh Begley, Aeon Video.  Source: Reporter.  Published: November 11, 2016. Time: 6:41 minutes.


In “Transforming Border Security: Prevention First” Robert Bach argues for "(t)he development of a prevention-led border strategy would involve at least four strategic shifts: aligning border security with global strategy; forging a new foreign policy; making progress on cooperation; and changing U.S. reactive approaches.”  Source: Homeland Security Affairs 1, Article 2.  Posted: June 2005. 


“The cure for poverty is not another new economic plan, and it’s not another big celebrity campaign. (Rather) (i)t’s allowing people to create prosperity for themselves and their families.”  Some long-term solutions (including some CRS initiatives) to the root causes of immigration from Latin America are discussed in "Do U.S. Economic Policies Fuel Latin-American Immigration?"  Author: Peter Jesserer Smith.  Source: National Catholic Register.  Published: July 23, 2013.    

Secondary Resources

Additional Readings

Chapter 3

Bacon, David. Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Migrants. Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.

Marquardt, Marie Friedmann, Timothy J. Steigenga, Philip J. Wilkins and Manuel A. Vasquez. Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Migration.  New York: The New Press, 2011.

Nevins, Joseph. Dying to Get in: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid. San Francisco: City Lights, 2008.

Ngai, Mae. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2005.

Chapter 4

Dear, Michael. Why Walls Don’t Work. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.