Fall 2018 - 60655 - PA 383C - Policy Development | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2018 - 60655 - PA 383C - Policy Development

U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Policy


Participants will gain a deeper understanding of U.S. Immigration and Citizenship policy in a comparative context as well as refine their skills as policy analysts. Successful participants will synthesize complex immigration issues succinctly and analyze controversial immigration issues objectively.

Brief Description

This course synthesizes immigration issues as a multi-tiered debate. It opens with a global perspective on the push-pull forces driving international migration. It reviews the historical underpinnings of U.S. immigration law. In turn, it breaks down current U.S. immigration law and policy into key elements: border control and visa security; legal immigration; documentation and verification; interior immigration enforcement; and refugees and other humanitarian populations. It delineates the debate for a range of issues, including border security, criminal aliens, worksite enforcement, employment eligibility verification, permanent admissions, temporary workers, legalization, birthright citizenship.

Participants will prepare for each session by reading the materials assigned for the topic. The weekly readings are typically four articles, book chapters, or reports. All of the required readings will be available on Canvass. Participants will submit a discussion question from the readings for each class and will engage in a discussion of the readings during the sessions.

Written Assignments -- Memoranda


The issue for each of the three individual memoranda may be selected from the following subject list –

·       Family-based immigration to the United States

•       Global competition for talent

•       Low and unskilled migration

•       Visa security and terrorism

•       Employment verification systems

•       State and local authorities over immigration

•       DACA & Dreamers

•       Asylum policy for the 21st Century

•       Birthright citizenship

•       Country of origin diversity

•       Numerical limits

•       Border control

•       Worksite enforcement

•       Legalization 

•       Detention and removal

•       Criminal aliens

•       Issue of your choosing, with prior approval


All three memos may be on the same issue, if desired. If you wish to write on an issue that is not listed, it must be approved in advanced by the professor. The memos should draw on a variety of source material, including: 

•       the Immigration and Nationality Act, relevant federal regulations, and administrative guidance;

•       legal decisions of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, federal courts, and other judicatories; 

•       census data (e.g., Current Population Survey March Supplement, American Community Survey);

•       administrative data (e.g., annual flow data from the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics);

•       congressional hearings;

•       scholarly research and think tank reports;

•       relevant Inspector General and U.S. Government Accountability Office reports;

•       opinion leader statements; and

•       advocacy group positions.


In the first memo, you will identify the research materials and data available for the issue you have selected and assess the merits and limitations of these sources.  In the second memo you will design a research project to analyze the issue you have selected. [Note: this is only the research design.] In the third memo, you will present possible options for the issue you have selected and analyze the pros and cons of these options.  As noted above, you do not have to do all three memos on the same issue. Please submit the memoranda to me electronically on Canvas by 8 am on the day of the class in which it is due. Failure to meet these requirements will result in a grade reduction. Any late assignment will at a minimum receive a one-grade reduction (A to A-). 

Final Project


Over the term, participants will work on a selected immigration issue, for which they will:

•       define the parameters of the specific issue;

•       propose a policy research framework for the issue; 

•       assess the scope of the issue (ideally, but necessarily, by using quantitative data);

•       propose a range of options to address the problem; and 

•       present an oral and written analysis of the options (e.g., any measureable impacts, pro/cons, cost/benefits, political trade-offs). 

The final project may address a policy issue related to the subject that the participant’s memos covered.

Grade Allocation


                  Memo assessing source materials                                                                                         10%        Memo designing a policy research plan                                                                             20%

                  Memo proposing options and providing pro/con analysis                                30%

                  Project and Presentation                                                                                                          30%        Class participation                                                                                                                         10%


Class participation is a graded course requirement because oral communication and group discernment are essential skills in the public sector. Diversity of perspectives is welcomed and respected.   Effective participation grows out of thorough preparation, listening to each other, useful questions and comments, and the ability to draw on broader knowledge and experiences. 

Policy on Class Ethics and Scholastic Integrity


The public deserves analysts, managers, and leaders who demonstrate the highest level of integrity and ethics.  Nothing less is expected in this class. Students will abide by the academic rules and regulations established by the University of Texas. In promoting a high standard of academic integrity, the University of Texas broadly defines scholastic dishonesty—basically,

“….all conduct that violates this standard, including any act designed to give an unfair or undeserved academic advantage, such as: cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, falsifying academic records, and misrepresenting facts (e.g., providing false information to postpone an exam, obtain an extended deadline for an assignment, or even gain an unearned financial benefit). Any other acts (or attempted acts) that violate the basic standard of academic integrity (e.g., multiple submissions—submitting essentially the same written assignment for two courses without authorization to do so)….”

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will result in a failure, or grade of "F", for the course. If you have any questions or need further guidance, please refer to:



9:00AM to 12:00PM
SRH 3.212/3.221