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PSC 151E US Immigration Politics and Policy

Fall 2018

Term Paper Guide: Current Challenges in US Immigration Policymaking

Making public policy involves defining problems, deciding to act, and constructing and administering interventions. This term paper paper requires you ultimately to recommend a solution to a specific challenge in U.S. immigration policy. You will need to define the problem, outline the issues and stakeholders, identify potential solutions, and finally evaluate both the substantive and political viability of those potential solutions. At the conclusion of the paper, you will recommend one of the alternative solutions.


You can write on any sub-topic we are scheduled to address in class . . . or choose one we have not addressed. You can choose a challenge to national policymakers, or a challenge to local or state policymakers. The following are topics, but you’ll have to craft a more specific research question about your topic such as “How can the H1-B temporary skilled worker program be reformed to both protect worker rights and give employers flexible access to a workforce?”  Here are some ideas:

Visa overstays

Sanctuary cities

E-Verify program

Entrepreneurial (startup) visas

CONRAD 30 program

Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights and the


Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Hiring

Low-skilled worker reform

EB-5 program

H-1B visa reform

Refugees and asylee program reforms

Foreign students

H-2B visa reform

Diversity visas


Due with Partial Draft of Section C, 10/2/17.

By October 2, you should have at least seven good sources.  You will need to compose a listing of sources and how you hope to use them in your project. List each source you think will be fruitful, and describe it in two or three sentences. What is the book/article about? How do you think it will be relevant to you?


  1. Title Page.  Due on the final due date.

Choose a creative title for your work. This will likely be completed last, when you’ve finished all your research and analysis. You can also choose more creative subtitles.

  1. Introduction. (1-2 pages) Due on the final due date.

This part of the paper will likely be completed last. It will briefly describe the challenge you have chosen, and will include a sentence or paraphrase recommending that a particular approach be adopted to face the challenge. “In this paper, I argue that the best way to minimize the use of undocumented workers in agriculture is to create a program like that proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in 2009, identifying undocumented workers who have been in the country for some time, and granting them legal status.”

  1. Framing the Problem and Identifying Interests. (7 pages)  Due 10-2.

What is the problem you’re interested in? What brings it to attention? Who considers it a problem and is bringing it to attention? Why does the problem come to attention now?

What conditions led to the problem?  What are the history and background – what sorts of efforts have been made to solve the problem in the past, and what were the results of those efforts?

Whose interests are affected? Whose concerns are relevant? Who is losing because of the problem? Who would benefit by the solutions to the problem? Who would have to pay in the event of a solution? Who is in a position to implement policy to solve the problem?

How do the interested parties (i.e. small Eastern farmers and large Western farmers) define the problem? What sorts of values and ideals do they bring to the table (i.e. a quick, flexible labor force, or workplace protections for non-immigrant labor)? What are their underlying interests (both legitimate and, perhaps, illegitimate)?

How do the various interests communicate and press for their position?  

What has public opinion been like on this issue, and how might that affect policymakers?

What do policy experts say about the problem?

How have elected and appointed officials sought to arbiter among the interests of the various groups? That is, how does politics influence the problem?

How come this problem has not been satisfactorily addressed up to now?

  1. Specifying Alternative Solutions and Relevant Criteria for Evaluating Them.  

(5 pages) Due 11-1.

What are the goals and objectives of a public policy to solve this problem?

What symbols or stories or metaphors are evident in the expression of goals and objectives?

What sorts of policy instruments might achieve the goals and objectives you wish to achieve?  What are at least two alternative policies to meet the need?

What are the relevant criteria for choosing the best one? How do the stakeholders weigh these criteria? What are the tradeoffs among these criteria?

What would be the outcome of each alternative according to criteria you consider relevant?

  1. Recommending an Alternative and Explain Your Reasoning.

Which policy option do you recommend or endorse? Why is it best? Why are the other alternatives worse?

What is the basis for your recommendation? What types of analysis supports it?

What symbols or stories are apparent in the expression for your recommendation?

How will your choice affect the various stakeholder interests?

On what conditions (political, economic, social, organizational) does successful implementation of your choice depend?

What are the constraints (political, economic, organizational, ethical) on implementing your choice?

  1. Notes and References

My preferred format for references is Chicago style. You can use either the author/date or the notes/bibliography style. I personally prefer the notes/bibliography style (that is the style employed in your textbook Guarding the Golden Door). The reason: it’s easier to cite complex government documents when you’re working with endnotes.

For questions, see the Chicago-Style Quick Citation Guide on the Axinn Library Webpage by going “Citation Help,” “Citation and Style Guides,” and clicking on The Chicago Manual of Style Online. You’ll be taken to


Google Searching the web will not be sufficient. You must use the Hofstra Library webpage to access books, journals, magazines/newspapers, independent research and government reports. Lucky for all of us that this information is still on the Web; it just doesn’t come up under a Google search. It costs plenty for our library to store and index, and it is absolutely essential to good social science research.

You will need at least 10 sources:

  • At least 3 books. Remember you can order books through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). E-books are included in this stipulation. The library has tons of them!
  • At least 3 scholarly articles.
  • At least 2 research reports by either independent research outlets (Congressional Quartly, CQ Researcher) or policy-specific research institutes such as the Center for American Progress, Migration Policy Institute, Center for Immigration Studies, Niskanen Center, CATO Institute, or Pew Research Center/Hispanic Trends. These may be either in print or from the Web.
  • At least 2 government documents such as hearings or reports.

Proceed carefully with Websites. You are encouraged to use them, but note the groups with which they are affiliated: NDLON, FAIR, MALDEF, LULAC, and ZPG are all great sources of information about how stakeholders view immigration policy disputes, but their research has to be evaluated carefully.

Proceed carefully with newspapers and periodicals, especially those published on the web.  Credible newspapers, news sites and periodicals use traditional fact-ch  ecking methods.  When citing news and periodical articles, cite the author, title, publication and date, just as you would if they were in print. 

One great source:

Catherine F. Smith, Writing Public Policy: A Practical Guide to Communicating in the Policy

Making Process, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

I have used Professor Smith’s question framework in crafting this assignment, and I recommend this volume as a reference book.


During the last three weeks of class, each student will each give a 15-minute presentation of his or her research, featuring at least four slides.  The slides can feature photos, graphs, Tables or words. Put the slides up on Google Drive and I’ll give you some time to share them with classmates and make sure you’re getting your point across.


Subject Guide

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Bill Caniano
902F Axinn Library

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