Teaching with the News

U.S. Immigration Policy: What Should We Do?

ImmigrationThis is an interactive lesson plan that engages students in consideration of divergent policy alternatives concerning the goals of immigration policy.

The Senate and House of Representatives are considering changes to current immigration law that will fundamentally change the rules on immigration. Debate highlights issues related to border control, undocumented workers, and law enforcement, and raises additional questions about human rights, the economy, the environment, and security. As our elected representatives consider the options for current policy, it is important for Americans to understand these issues within the wider context of our long-term goals for immigration policy.

U.S. Immigration Policy: What should we do? is an online resource that is excerpted from U.S. Immigration Policy in an Unsettled World. This one-week curriculum unit gives students the tools they need to wrestle with the questions involved in U.S. immigration policy.

This lesson includes:

Policy Options
Four Policy Options have been framed to help students think about divergent policy alternatives, each driven by different underlying values, each with merits and trade-offs. The Options provided have been developed with input from the research staff at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. The Policy Options can be printed for classroom use from the Choices web site.

Lesson Plan
A two-period lesson plan is provided. It is focused on role-play and deliberation exploring the four Policy Options. Teachers are encouraged to integrate the suggested background resources into their courses as appropriate.

Online Ballot: U.S. Immigration Policy - What should we do?
After consideration of this issue, we encourage students to make their views known. A report on student views will be developed.

Ballot Activity on America's Role in the World
After consideration of this issue, we invite you to give students an opportunity to wrestle with the larger question of America's role in the world using an online ballot activity. What do they think about America's role? What issues are of most concern to them? What kind of world do they want in the 21st century? A 5-day published unit, The U.S. Role in a Changing World, is also available.

Additional Resources from the Choices Program

U.S. Immigration Policy in an Unsettled World
a one-week curriculum unit that examines the historical and current dimensions of an issue that has become a key focus of U.S. policy in the wake of 9.11 and engages students in the current debate about our national identity.

Supplementals Materials for U.S. Immigration Policy in an Unsettled World provides links to additional resources related to this issue

Additional Online Resources

On Current Immigration Reform

  • National Conference of State Legislatures
    provides an overview of federal immigration reform bills.
  • National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights
    provides an Immigration Proposal Comparison Chart comparing the Bush, Sensenbrenner, and Specter proposals.

U.S. Census Data on the Foreign Born
an interactive state-by-state map published by the Migration Policy Institute.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
a U.S. government website that offers statistics and information about government policy.

National Immigration Forum
an immigrant rights organization that advocates for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees.

Federation for American Immigration Reform
provides numerous statistics and position papers by a group that hopes to reduce U.S. immigration levels.

NPR's Immigration in America
a series that surveys native born Americans and immigrants on their attitudes toward immigration.