Books and activities that address the volatile issue of legal and illegal immigration to America.
Legal and illegal immigration has become a volatile issue in American society. Communities that have not previously had to deal with large groups of immigrants for many years now find themselves hosts to new arrivals to America. Students meet the child immigrants or children of immigrants in their schools, neighborhoods, stores, etc. What is the history of American immigration? What does it mean for America today? How do these newcomers feel?
Book: Our Beckoning Borders: Illegal Immigration to America, by Brent Ashabranner. Photographs by Paul Conklin.
Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children come illegally to America each year. Another million or more are caught each year by the U.S. Border Patrol and turned back. An estimated four million illegal immigrants now live in the United States.
Who are these people who often face great personal danger to illegally enter the country? What hope or desperation drives them? How do they survive once they are here? What problems do they face? What are the prospects for better control of illegal immigration? Through stories of Border Patrol agents, the illegal immigrants, and others facts and photographs are woven together to address these questions.
- Have students quickly take out a piece of paper and write down the things they would take with them if they had to leave their home right now. Everything must fit into a backpack. It cannot cost money or electricity to use. It cannot make noise. Discussion: What was most important to them? Why?
- Discussion: Talk about the meaning of the word “immigrant.” Why do people leave their homeland? What did they expect to find in America? Do all immigrants voluntarily come to America? How do they get here? Write: What do you think it is like for immigrants on their trip to America?
- Construct a Statue of Liberty. This can be done with paper mache’ around a wire frame. It could be done by each class. Discussion: What does the poem by Emma Lazarus mean to you? Write: Compose a new poem for the statue of liberty that you think should reflect our attitudes towards immigrants.
- Discussion: How do today’s immigrants differ from those who came before? How did they travel? Why did they leave their homeland? Where did they live when they came to America? Write: Why do think people want to live in America? What do you like best about living in America.
American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices. Edited by Laurence Yep. Harper Collins: New York, 1993. 7 - 12 Grade.
Hector Lives In the United States Now: The Story of a Mexican-American Child. By Joan Hewett, Photographs by Richard Hewett. Lipincott: New York, 1990. 2 - 5 Grade.
Journey of the Sparrows. By Fran Leeper Buss. Dell: New York, 1991. 7 - 12 Grade.
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. Francisco Jimenez. University of New Mexico Press 1997. 6 - 9 Grade.
Quilted Landscape: Conversations With Young Immigrants. By Yale Strom. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1996. 4 - 10 Grade.
Tall Boy’s Journey. By Joanna Halpert Kraus, Illustrations by Karen Ritz. Carolrhoda Books Inc.: Minneapolis, 1992. 2 - 5 Grade.
Tonio’s Cat. By Mary Calhoun, Illustrated by Edward Martinez. Morrow Junior Books: New York, 1996. 1 - 4 Grade.