Any topic (writer’s choice)

To provoke thought: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s parents brought her from Ecuador to New York when she was five years old. She grew up undocumented, just published her first book, The Undocumented Americans, and now is finishing her PhD at Yale.

Villavicencio writes, I personally subscribe to Dr. Kings definition of an unjust law as being out of harmony with the moral law. And the higher moral law here is that people have a human right to move, to change location, if they experience hunger, poverty, violence, or lack of opportunity, especially if that climate in their home countries is created by the United States, as is the case with most third world countries from which people migrate.”

Like Villavicencio, Vargas questions our very definitions of what is legal and illegal. For the Dear America argumentation analysis essay, you need to explain at least 3-4 of Vargas’ main arguments you see him making in Dear America.

It is your job to explain, guiding us through his arguments (including how he is implicitly arguing against stereotypes and misinformation about immigrants, undocumented immigrants, Latinos, and immigration policy). (Hint: some of these imagined arguments are not stated, but from the way he argues, you can tell that hes arguing against it.)

Example of arguing against unstated claims: In July 2020, Kanye West said that Harriet Tubman
(Links to an external site.). The next day, on Twitter John Legend reposted @BerniceKings tweet that said, Mother Freedom, with his comment, Superhero. Founding Mother. They never mentioned Kanyes tweet, but their tweets were obviously counter-arguing his claim with their own assertions of Tubmans positive contribution. (They both likely were trying to avoid repeating an opinion that they found to be shockingly disrespectful and inaccurate.) So its your job to infer what views Vargas is arguing against; sometimes he actually states those views.

Youll explain: How does Vargas make and build his arguments throughout the whole book, with a special emphasis on his analysis of laws he makes in Part III? How does he show an awareness of who his readers might be (audience) and what preconceptions they have, and then build his arguments against those beliefs? Part III policy critiques and recommendations must be covered. I.e., how is he trying to change his readers’ beliefs about undocumented immigrants, and how does he logically build that argument with evidence, finishing up in the final section with his recommendations of how we need to change law and policies?

You will dig up at least 3-4 outside research sources of your own choosing that help to explain the context for this larger debate. This shouldnt be more than 10% of your essay. E.g. if you write 2200 words, it shouldnt be more than 220 words summarizing your outside claims. But if you write more than 2200 words, then you are welcome to develop with more research.

You are allowed to pick up on ideas you already discussed in the discussion forums and build these, but if you use any actual words from your previous posts, you must highlight these words in yellow. These copied words shouldnt be more than 5% of your essay, i.e., not more than 100 words in a 2200 word essay. But you are welcome to pick up on previous ideas and restate them, e.g, his key ideas on the Master Narrative.

I am reading for comprehensiveness on covering his key arguments as a whole throughout the whole book, especially Part III when he starts to get into policy. His whole strategy is to tell his story so that we can put a human face on immigration policy, which is what he builds up to, finally making these arguments at the end. An essay that stops its paraphrase/citations around Part II, skipping the end chapters of Part III, will be considered incomplete. I expect you to use BRIEF (ideally not more than 1-2 sentences) quotations frequently to back up your interpretation and give examples of how hes proving his claims with different kinds of evidence, and I expect you to explain the interesting/hard/unique parts of these quotations with paraphrase.

Of course, you need a thesis at the end of your first paragraph that answers the question. Each paragraph needs to start with a t.s. (topic sentence) that clearly states a major claim, and then goes on to show how that claim is made with specific evidence and examples.

Some don’ts:

Essays that focus ONLY on retelling his personal story but dont analyze his argumentation by explaining how he presents evidence to make those arguments & offers solutions, will not get full credit.
Essays that drop in statistics (or a unique opinion) without an author/ page citation right before the period = plagiarism zone. Cite it.
Im expecting essays to reflect your having read and followed the reading/writing methods in They Say, I Say. Not using sentence connection phrases to logically connect your ideas, or signal phrases before quotations, or using says rather than other words like writes or states, are easy ways to tell me you havent read this books instructions.
Incomplete reading–not spending enough time reading and rereading his ideas–shows very obviously in superficial writing that feels like fluff and just opinion and doesnt go deep into the authors ideas. Almost all excellent essays are ones with deep reading, covering a lot of the authors ideas.
Dont stop midway through the book and call it done.
Essays with long quotations that arent explained.
Essays with lots of quotations that youre not analyzing, leaving us to guess what they mean. E.g. If you quote Vargas on the Master Narrative, or some tough immigration policy point, and then you dont explain it, thats incomplete.
Your essay shouldnt be much more than 15% of others words, and even that might be too much. Why? Its an easy tip off that youre not analyzing the authors words/ideas. You can check the % yourself at sites like this one to avoid this problem.
Essays with sentence errors that Ive already noted in your previous essay comments, but which arent improved, e.g. possessives (s /s), run-togethers.
Essays missing page citations on key ideas, even if theyre not quoted = this gets near to plagiarism. Drop in that page in (#).
Wrong page format that ignores MLA format and what I wrote in the syllabus in the first week.
Essays that spend 400 words of 2200 talking about your own experience and so dont cover much of the book. Sure, please feel welcome to link your own experience to Vargas, but if you eat up 20% of the essay doing that, it will be incomplete on reading coverage. Tip: One solution is that if you want to write more about your experience (and I love reading those experiential sections), then also increase your word cap so its above 2200 and youre still covering the reading in depth.
A Works Cited thats not in MLA format.
Obviously, poor proofreading. But you all have had pretty good proofreading so far.
Format of Outline of your Dear America argumentation analysis essay claims

Introduction ending in your thesis on how Vargas’ claims breaking down, analyzing, and giving counter arguments on US views & policies on undocumented immigrants.
Vargas’ point #1 (& how it responds to others’ views)
III. Vargas’ point #2 (perhaps on law/policy) (& how it responds to others’ views)

Vargas’ point #3 on Policy (& how it responds to others’ views)
Vargas’ point #4 on Policy & how it responds to others’ views) – optional
Analysis of his views / Research on 3 outside research sources of your own choosing that help to explain the context for this larger debate.
VII. Conclusion

MLA Works Cited

Length: 2200 words min. As usual, writing 2200 words doesnt guarantee a passing essay, as Im also grading on the other factors Ive listed above.

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