Social Policy & Politics Program | Memo

Holding Children Blameless, but not Adults—A Politically Feasible Path for Illegal Immigrants

by Jim Kessler and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky

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Third Way has and always will support an earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants now residing in the United States. But we have come to the conclusion that a blanket path to citizenship is politically impossible—for now and for the foreseeable future. The debate around what to do with this population is often characterized as a choice between deportation and citizenship. But this memo offers a third option that we think reflects moderate values and has the potential to un-stick the debate: holding children blameless by giving them legal status and a path to citizenship, but making adults accountable by offering them a path to legalization but not citizenship.

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