Illegal Immigration Laws

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					Middle School Social Studies                                                           Mexico
The Western World

                                  SCoPE Site Lesson Plan
Title: Lesson 4 – Immigration from Mexico, Legal and Illegal (SS060504)

The students begin this lesson on Mexican immigration with a study of immigration in general.
They research what the laws are and how they have changed throughout the history of the United
States. They look specifically at the differences between border crossings and immigration from
Mexico and compare it to Canada. They discuss why there are differences in movement between
the countries. The students develop criteria to judge a quality position paper on the topic of
immigration. They research immigration and write a position paper on the topic. They are given
the question, “Should laws restricting immigration to the United States from Mexico be eased or
strengthened?” Each student is expected to write a one-page reflective essay answering the
question. The papers are presented to and discussed by the class.

Subject Area: Social Studies

Grade Level and Course Title: Sixth Grade Social Studies/The Western World

Unit of Study: Mexico

 Describe major economic and political connections between the United States and Mexico
   and explain their causes and consequences (II.3.MS.4).
 Engage each other in conversations which attempt to clarify and resolve national and
   international policy issues affecting both Mexico and the United States (VI.2.MS.1).

Key Concepts
illegal immigration
migrant worker

Instructional Resources
Large wall map of North American and Mexico

Student Resource
The Border. PBS. 7 April 2005 <>.

A classroom set of world atlases, such as:

       Atlas of World Geography. Chicago: Rand McNally, 2000; or

       Hudson, J. and E. Espanshade, Eds. Goodes World Atlas. Chicago: Rand McNally, 2000;

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Middle School Social Studies                                                               Mexico
The Western World

       The Nystrom World Atlas. Chicago: Nystrom, 1999.

An open U.S-Mexico border opens many questions. Christian Science Monitor. 7 April 2005

Rethinking History and the Nation State: Mexico and the United States. Journal of American
    History. 7 April 2005 <>.

United States Census 2000.            United   States    Census    Bureau.    7    April     2005

U.S. and Mexico at a Glance. Feb. 2005. U.S. Embassy – Mexico City. 7 April 2005

U.S./Mexico Environmental Programs: Border 2012. 20 Dec. 2004. Environmental Protection
    Agency. 7 April 2005 <>.

The World Book Almanac and Book of Facts 2004. Mahwah, New Jersey: World Almanac, 2003.

Teacher Resource
The    New     Americans.     The    Lewis   Mumford     Center.    7             April      2005

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 1 April 2005. U.S. Department of Homeland
    Security. 7 April 2005 <>.

Sequence of Activities
1. Ask students for a show of hands on how many of them have ancestors who came to the
   United States from another country. Ask students if any of them know when this occurred
   and for details of the experience. If time permits they could ask parents and relatives for
   information that has been passed along from generation to generation in the family and report
   to the class. The information is shared informally with the class. The Web site
   <> has immigration
   data for major cities in the country. For example, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Flint, Ann Arbor,
   and many other Michigan cities are presented. The tables are an excellent source of data to
   view trends in immigrant population between 1990 and 2000. Using this and other
   information from the census of population sources, students begin to study immigration to the
   United States.

2. Have students read about the history of immigration as well as present day laws and policies
   on the same Mumford Center Website. They discuss why there seems to be a necessity for
   such laws. They then focus on Canada and Mexico in particular, comparing the two as they
   uncover information about movement of people to the U.S. from those countries. In a guided
   discussion they explore why there are different laws and issues concerning movement

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Middle School Social Studies                                                              Mexico
The Western World

   between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico. The issue of illegal
   immigration is introduced and discussed.

3. Explain to students that they will be writing a position paper on immigration laws dealing
   with Mexico. As a class, guide students in developing a set of criteria to help them in writing
   the paper. The criteria will also be used to score the finished paper, in the form of a rubric.
   Suggested items for the rubric might include:
    An appropriate title
    An introductory statement giving their position
    Clear statement of facts
    At least two sources for information, correctly cited
    Apply a core democratic value
    Use prior social studies knowledge with respect to the major economic and political
       connections between the United States and Mexico, including their causes and
    A conclusion
    One page in length

4. Write the following public issue on the board or on an overhead transparency: “Should laws
   restricting immigration to the United States from Mexico be eased?” Have students research
   the topic of immigration using their books and the Internet, noting the sources of information
   so that they can cite them in their papers. Encourage students to consider the point –
   counterpoint discussions in Lesson 3 of this unit and apply those principles to their position.
   They write their position papers, using the criteria that will be used to evaluate them.

5. Once the papers are completed, the class is divided into two groups according to the stance
   that each student took in their papers. Each student reads the main point from their paper and
   this information is organized so that students hear both sides of the issue. The question,
   “Should laws restricting immigration to the United States from Mexico be eased?” is written
   on the board. As the statements are given, they are written on the board under the titles “Pro”
   or “Con” under the question. Once all the information has been given, the students are given
   a chance to discuss and vote on the question.

The position paper that students write on the topic of immigration and the following discussion
serve as the assessment for this lesson.

Application Beyond School
If possible a person who had immigrated to the U.S. could come and talk to the class about the
experiences encountered upon entering a new country. This would be especially timely if
someone from Mexico could speak to the class about their experiences. Students can continue to
explore immigration issues as they relate to current national or state issues in the news.


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Middle School Social Studies                                                      Mexico
The Western World

English Language Arts
Students use research skills developed in English language arts class when they collect
information for the position paper on immigration. Persuasive writing skills are used when
completing the paper.

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