For Educators

Immigration: U.S. Policy in the New Millennium – Background


Immigration is a part of life in the United States; the country was founded by immigrants and it continues to receive a steady influx of newcomers from all parts of the world. But increasingly, and especially since the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, policy makers and citizens are raising questions about our immigration policies.

In this lesson, students examine several of these crucial questions. Who should be legally allowed to immigrate to the U.S.? Do immigrants, legal or illegal, strengthen and enrich the U.S., or do they drain its valuable resources? What rights and supports should be given to immigrants, regardless of their legal status? What kinds of difficulties and conflicts occur when a community experiences dramatic change through a large influx of immigrants?

Using segments from RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, students will build an understanding of key issues. As a culminating activity, students use a process of academic controversy to explore the issue of voting rights for legal immigrants; then they will stage a public debate to help members of their communities explore local immigration issues.

Grade Level:

Grades 9-12

Time Allotment:

This lesson [unit] can carry over anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the level of interest and commitment to the topic.

Subject Matter:

Social studies; English/ language arts; religion; mathematics; health.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Research historical and current events involving immigration with an emphasis on policy.
  • Identify, analyze, and discuss controversial issues regarding immigration.
  • Collect oral histories from immigrants.
  • Interview guest speakers who work with immigrants.
  • Research and stage a debate about solutions to immigration problems.


This lesson was prepared by: Kathleen Cochran, Ed.M.