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Tug-of-War: Mexican Immigration to the United StatesbyBarbara Prillaman
- You simply melt right in,
- It doesn't matter what your skin,
- It doesn't matter where you're from,
- Or your religion, you jump right in
- To the great American melting pot
- The great American melting pot.
- Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue. 1
- —"Great American Melting Pot"
In the classic Schoolhouse Rocks video, The Great American Melting Pot, the lyrics mirror Emma Lazarus's infamous words visible at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
- "Give me your tired, your poor,
- Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
- The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
- Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
- I lift my lamp beside the golden door." 2
Both of these sets of words represent the collective memory of our country, one built on the philosophy of welcoming all immigrants no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. Historically, the United States continues to be the leading country of immigrant arrival numbers at about 20 per cent currently of world immigrants. Over the years, they have come from around the world to escape poverty, war, natural disasters, political and religious oppression. They've come to the United States for economic opportunities, social mobility, freedom, and sanctuary. The melting pot philosophy in which everyone arrives, jumps in, mixes together with those from other areas and countries of the world, and pops back out identical to each other is one that I had heard time and again in my own schooling. Many of my generation must remember watching the Schoolhouse Rocks series during the Saturday morning cartoon shows. However, this image, as I have come to find out and truly understand is far from our country's truth.
Over the course of our seminar, I have reached a better understanding of the process of immigration – one that is not based solely on the push/pull factors and a linear approach of "the beginning of a journey" according to Seminar Leader, Mary Lui, in which immigrants are "not looking back, but looking toward the future of new lives and new economic opportunities." 3 She purports that much is left out by viewing the narrative of immigration linearly – that it is much more complex in that immigration often involve transnational migration, borders are hardened and/or softened over time, and that our country, amongst others, sometimes create the reasons behind why people may want to immigrate/migrate.
For the purpose of this unit, I focus on the processes of inclusion and exclusion that were established from the founding of the United States that challenge easy assumptions about the melting pot. This unit is divided into three parts. The human component of people's personal narratives will play a major part in this first section. Through historical content and a recently published novel, The Book of Unknown Americans, students will come to understand the reasons why people immigrate as well as how to view immigration from complex vantage point instead of just one perspective. The second section delves into historically racially motivated immigration policies and laws that will also include an explanation of racial construction within the context of those laws. I want students to comprehend the vocabulary necessary to discuss immigration in an educational setting as well as what the laws/policies mean to individuals. The third section is a transition from the unit taught right before in which the idea of a border is viewed from the sociological perspectives using a variety of sources. In this part, students will combine what they have learned with a more in-depth knowledge of Mexico-United States relations from the nineteenth century to the present. It will feature the case study of Mexico highlighting the laws/policies specific to that country and its' migrants/immigrants. Throughout these three sections primary sources such as maps, letters, legislation, and photographs will be used for students to obtain a clearer picture of who is included and excluded and how these practices are racially motivated contradicting the beloved melting pot lyrics.
Because this is a dual-enrollment course in conjunction with our local community college, I have specific guidelines as to what I can/cannot do regarding grading, assessments, and curriculum choices. During the time that I have taught this course, I have had the opportunity to develop four units from my participation in local and national seminars. With the help of the readings, research, and participation in Immigration and Migration and the Making of a Modern American City, I will have a fifth unit – one that will bridge the units on Sociological Perspectives and Race that I created to use with my students. This unit's focus will be on migration across the U.S.-Mexico border – the flows of people as well as the legal and social formation of the border in U.S. history. I look at how this movement has changed over time according to U.S. laws and how these changes have affected the social identity of these people. This focus allows for this unit to act as a bridge connecting the two current ones.
Our curriculum's first unit highlights the three sociological perspectives (Functionalist, Conflict, and Symbolic Interactionist) building the foundation of understanding for students new to this discipline. The Mexico/United States border is the subject that enables students to view one concrete example and how its' meaning/purpose can be interpreted very differently. From that unit, students are able to define a border, explain the causes and consequences of borders, and describe a bit about how the border separating the United States and Mexico has changed over time from 1848 to present and how those changes have impacted the countries, their societies, and their peoples. A later unit examines the social construction of race. I believe that this proposed unit would aid students to better understand the connection between these two concepts. When speaking with Mary, she mentioned the national border is not just a physical boundary but also a legally, socially and culturally constructed demarcation that continues to shape migrants experiences in the U.S. Having students broaden their understanding of the border to include the ideas of race, identities, and citizenship – which people are included/excluded and the reasons why will help to extend my students' comprehension of this subject matter. Terms such as foreign-born, migration, migration rate, push/pull factors, emigration, immigration, assimilation, racialized nativism, citizen, alien, social differentiation, and international migration will be addressed and put into context.
As a caretaker, a community builder in the classroom, it is important to me that students feel comfortable. Current immigration debates and news stories about the border may easily be politically divisive so all the more that I am paying attention to the learning environment. I know this helps with the learning process – if students feel supported and safe they are more willing to take chances in their learning as well with their discussions. This is essential to our distance learning class since we are located at three different locations (our school and two sister high schools in our district) and trying to forge relationships and a sense of community via cameras across distances. I spend much of the year trying to have students think from a sociologist's point of view not a personal one. With so many different personalities in our combined community, I want students to feel confident speaking up from an educated viewpoint based on the content learned versus a "feeling" statement that may not be evidence based. This unit will help us ease into the next unit on race that tends to be a highly energized – and, at times, a sensitive one.
This particular unit is designed for the high school juniors and seniors who choose to take this social sciences course, Sociology, as an elective. Due to scheduling requirements, most of them tend to be seniors who have already met their graduation requirements. These students must complete and pass a basic literacy test given by the local community college to gain entrance. Additionally, their families must pay a tuition fee, albeit reduced. This ensures if they complete the work at a satisfactory level and pass with a predetermined grade average, they will receive community college credit that tends to be easily transferred to local universities/colleges. This year there most likely will be about thirty-two students enrolled in the course – nineteen at my school, seven at the one sister school site and approximately six more at the other sister school to which this course is broadcast. These students vary in many aspects – race, ethnicity, work ethic, and skills set. Although I have been a teacher for eighteen years, this is only my sixth year working with high school students and the fourth one teaching in a distance-learning laboratory. My prior experience is with middle school English Language Learners (ELLs) students. So, working with these high school students challenges me to relate to students whose needs are different as young adults in the mainstream population and to create lessons that are more rigorous in content especially as it is, in reality, a community college course. I believe that it is really important for me to assist students in not only acquiring a content knowledge base but also the academic skills necessary to be successful at a higher learning institution where they need to learn more independently.
The College Wide Core Course (CCC) Performance Objective that I follow (based on the local community college) for this unit is: Analyze social stratification and the causes and consequences of classifying people by race, ethnicity, and gender. Students need to be able to: define the concept of stratification and its application to human differences; illustrate the connection between social stratification and life chances; and list two major kinds of criteria societies use to categorize people. This directly relates to our country's immigration laws/policies history.
Enduring Understandings are the big ideas of the unit and are vital to students' comprehension of content and concepts. They have lasting value and help to make the content meaningful. 4 The Enduring Understandings are taken from the Core Concepts of our textbook's chapter on Race and Ethnicity. This unit will focus specifically on the Foreign-Born Population and Role of Race and Ethnicity in Immigration Policy components of the text's chapter. After the unit, students will be able to: understand the legal status of the foreign-born varies by country and is often connected to race and ethnicity (Core Concept #4/content from the textbook), define the concept of stratification and its application to human differences (Collegewide Core Curriculum Competency Performance Objective 7.1) and, explain the impact and consequences of classifying people by race, ethnicity, and gender (Collegewide Core Curriculum Competency Performance Objective 7.3). Our immigration laws/policies have a history of inclusion/exclusion that is based on how people are classified – race, ethnicity, and gender. Having students understand that idea coupled with how people are classified will help them to begin to recognize the why of these laws/policies and how they have changed over time. They will focus on the Guiding Questions: What is the role of race and ethnicity in immigration policy? Who are considered foreign-born and how are their life chances in the United States shaped by a number of factors associated with their arrival? How does the legal status of the foreign-born vary by country of origin and how is it often connected to socially constructed categories of race and ethnicity? Over time, how have U.S. laws affected the movement of people from Mexico to the United States? How have these affected the identity of immigrants?
Over the past two years, our district social studies consortium has begun to focus on the Common Core State Standards and how social studies/history teachers can support these through the teaching of how to effectively read informational texts. We have begun to map out the interpretation and application of the standards indicating what types of activities align with them. In our Professional Learning Community (PLC), we spend a lot of time together talking about strategies that we believe will help our students to be more effective readers. We try them out in class and report back on our findings, trying to hone in on the most successful ones. In this unit, I would like for my students to focus on the Common Core's Integration of Knowledge and Ideas section under History/Social Studies. Listed as CSSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
A variety of texts (both for reading and viewing) will be used in this unit. From the comprehension of these texts, students will develop an understanding of the history of racially motivated U.S. immigration laws and their affects on people. Students will closely read a number of texts including written legislation that they will analyze and synthesize to answer the Guiding Questions.
Conrad Schools of Science is a school that has finally completed its transition, changing into a science/biotechnology magnet school serving almost 1200 students in grades 6 – 12. It is considered an urban school, situated on the outskirts of the most populated city in the state of Delaware, Wilmington. CSS students come from all over our state's largest county. The school's increasing popularity is obvious as many families complete the Choice application process seeking admission to our school. At the high school level, students can choose to focus on a variety of learning "strands" such as biotechnology, nursing, and veterinary science. Additionally, a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered as well as four courses that are in conjunction with our local community college. I am the teacher of one of these courses, Sociology.
Vocabulary, Policies, and Laws
There is a certain vocabulary that students will need to know to be able to maneuver through the documents that I am asking students to decipher, synthesize, and interpret. This vocabulary may be familiar to them on some level – whether it is through listening or reading the news or perhaps a unit they might remember from the Civics curriculum and will be introduced through the review and/or introduction of them. Most, I believe, may not be new to the terms but will need assistance with making meaning of them within context of specific laws and policies. However, as with all good teaching, a review of prior knowledge is important. Over the course of our work together in the seminar, I chose policies/Acts that I believe to have been influential in detailing a racial basis for admitting people into our country. These include the Naturalization Policy of 1790, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Immigration Act of 1921, Immigration Act of 1924 and the Immigration Act of 1965. To be introduced to these, students will view a series of political cartoons depicting the laws within the historical time frame.
Naturalization Policy 1790
During the creation of the Naturalization Policy in 1790, there was some struggle amongst legislators with immigration terminology. Naturalization is the legal process whereby a person who was not born in the United States willingly undergoes to become a U.S. Citizen. These persons are considered aliens. When one hears this word, one might conjure up imagines of outer space, heads with antennae or multiple eyes, amongst other visions of strangeness and horror. In terms of immigration, this term implies an "outsider" mentality – "an institutionalized 'other', different and apart from 'us' in law and society". 5 Aliens enjoy fewer rights and constitutional protections than citizens such as not being able to vote or sit on juries and deportation risks if they participate in certain political activities which citizens otherwise would be protected. 6 A U.S. Citizen is a person who has been born in the United States, has a parent who is a U.S. Citizen, a former Alien who has completed the citizenship process, or is born in Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. A U.S. National is an individual who owes his sole allegiance to the United States, including all U.S. citizens, and including some individuals who are not U.S. citizens. For tax purposes the term "U.S. national" refers to individuals who were born in American Samoa or were born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who have made the election to be treated as U.S. nationals and not as U.S. citizens. An immigrant or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) is a person who has been granted the right to live permanently and to work without restrictions in the United States. A "green card" is given as evidence of this status. 7
The first naturalization policy was established in 1790 and granted citizenship rights to all "free white persons" of "good moral standard" thus beginning the laws that have prevented certain groups of peoples identified as not "white" from becoming citizens of the United States over time. It is obvious that race makes its' way into the naturalization/immigration laws and policies from the very beginning of our country's history. Students will need a framework for understanding this history of race – a definition, point of reference to begin with. Ian Haney Lopez defines race as:
- Race can be understood as the historically contingent social
- systems of meaning that attach to elements of morphology and
- ancestry. This definition can be pushed on three interrelated
- levels, the physical, the social, and the material. First, race
- turns on physical features and lines of descent, not because
- features or lineage themselves are a function of racial
- variation, but because society has invested these with racial
- meanings. Second, because the meanings given to certain
- features and ancestries denote race, it is the social processes
- of ascribing racialized meanings to faces and forbearers that
- lie at the heart of racial fabrication. Third, these meaning-
- systems, while originally only ideas, gain force as they are
- reproduced in the material conditions of society. The
- distribution of wealth and poverty turns in part on the actions
- of social and legal actors who have accepted ideas of race, with
- the resulting material conditions becoming part of and
- reinforcement for the contingent meanings understood as race. 8
Many court cases ensued regarding proving one's whiteness when petitioning for naturalization. "Courts were responsible for deciding not only who was white, but why someone was white." 9 From 1878 to 1952 fifty-two racial prerequisite cases were heard including two at the Supreme Court level. 10 Amongst them, people from countries including Mexico, Japan, the Philippines, India, Syria, and Canada, pled their cases in a court of law. 11 By the 1920s, Asians comprised the only groups deemed "ineligible to citizenship" and denied naturalization. The 1870 rule of naturalization allowed emancipated African Americans and people of African ancestry to gain citizenship.
Two of the major prerequisite U.S. Supreme Court cases were Ozawa v. United States (1922) and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923). Takoa Ozawa was born in Japan in 1875 and moved to California in 1894. After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, he moved to the territory of Hawaii. In 1914 he applied for naturalization. In his documentation, he stated that he had no affiliation with Japan – he had never registered his name, marriage, or children with the Japanese consulate. The District of Hawaii's Court denied him stating that he was not white but of the Japanese race. This case, in which the "white skin" argument was used, in which Ozawa argued that his skin was as white if not whiter than many Caucasians, was rejected by the court system. Court statements included, "Skin color does not correlate well with racial identity." 12 and "Light skin does not foreclose the possibility that one is non-White." 13 The Supreme Court upheld this decision by using the word Caucasian in their ruling – deeming Ozawa not a Caucasian.
Three months later, a twenty-one year old Indian immigrant, Bhagat Singh Thind, petitioned for naturalization. According to law, as he was from India, he was not considered a Mongolian and he claimed to be Caucasian and therefore white. The district court concurred, but afterwards the federal government appealed the decision. Over time, the courts used two methods of determining whether someone belonged to the white race (1) common knowledge – referencing common beliefs about race; and (2) scientific evidence – "rationales justified racial divisions by reference to the naturalistic studies of humankind." 14 In the Thind case, the Supreme Court turned by favoring "common knowledge as the legal meter of race convincingly demonstrates that racial categorization finds its origins in social practices" 15 or that there is a social construction of race. This then defined not only who was considered white but that there was an operational legal category of whiteness – "law creates races". 16
This policy as well as the subsequent Acts also reflected a nativist view – a preference for those born in the U.S. versus those coming from other countries. Time and again throughout our history, for many, foreigners created a sense of fear for a number of reasons including the preservation of "the uniqueness of American citizenship." 17 Also, people feared languages other than English as a "linguistic difference will undermine the American nation." 18 Nativist attitudes such as these, combined with the preference for preserving or maintaining Anglo dominance led to preferences for immigrants from Anglo-Saxon cultures over others. Basically, this is what would follow in the 1924 Act. At the time, Naturalization consisted of a two-step process that began with fulfilling the residency requirement. The 1790 rule established a two-year requirement but was amended in 1795 to five years. Policy makers believed it was important for people to have spent a sufficient amount of time in the country before applying so that they could "appreciate American democracy." 19 First, after two years of living in the United States, a person could file a "declaration of intent" or "first papers". At the time, this could occur in any court. The second step, after three years, consisted of a petition for citizenship. Afterwards, a certificate was awarded. Three exceptions to the rule were made – (1) women and children of naturalized men also became citizens; (2) honorably discharged veterans received preferential treatment and were granted naturalization in one year time without having to file a "declaration of intent"; and, (3) from to 1824 to 1906 minors 25 years of age or younger who had lived in the United States for at least five years could file both the "declaration of intent" and petition for citizenship at the same time. 20
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Large-scale Chinese migration to the U.S. began in the late 1840s as many came to America to find their fortunes in the gold mines. They also worked diligently on the railroad systems to connect both coasts of the continent. Their completion in 1869 meant Chinese laborers were not limited to California or the West coast but could move throughout the nation. This alarmed labor leaders. Additionally, as their presence was felt with increasing numbers, many Americans became concerned. Due to financial pressures of sending money back home and paying off those who helped them get to America, it was the perception that the Chinese would work for wages that were lower than the Americans. Additionally, there were cultural misunderstandings and ignorance. Most Chinese, just as with other recently arrived immigrant groups, lived in the same area of the city. Because this population was comprised of mostly men, outsiders had social concerns and exaggerated tales of their activities. 21 "Some advocates of anti-Chinese legislation therefore argued that admitting Chinese into the United States lowered the cultural and moral standards of American society. Others used a more overtly racist argument for limiting immigration from East Asia, and expressed concern about the integrity of American racial composition." 22 History has seen this argument time and again usually focusing on Asians and Latin Americans including Mexicans. This was the first law to exclude an entire group of people from one country. It stated that no Chinese workers could enter the United States for ten years. It was renewed two times – each after ten years (Geary Act in 1892) – until it became indefinite in 1904. According to the Federal Judicial Center, "The 1884 law set out the requirements for the certificates and the definitions of exempt Chinese in much more detail and gave the U.S. consuls in China new responsibilities for enforcing the exclusion law." 23 In 1917, the Senate passed a bill to ban all peoples of Asia 24 although the Philippines was not included in this newly created "Asiatic Barred Zone."
The Immigration Act of 1921 and The Immigration Act of 1924/The Johnson-Reed Act
The Immigration Act of 1921 was the first that limited the numbers of European immigrants to the United States. With this Act, a temporary quota system was established in which the United States limited the number of people coming from specific countries. There was a 3% cap on people arriving from all countries in the world based on the 1910 census numbers with the aim of limiting immigrants to only those countries in Western and Northern Europe. 25
The 1924 Act was the first comprehensive restriction law. All groups of people were mentioned in some way including Asians who were not limited but banned. For the first time, there were limited numbers of people who were allowed to enter and these numbers were based on who was favored or not. 26 This law was important for two reasons. According to historian Mae Ngai, "it drew a new ethnic and racial map based on new categories and hierarchies of difference" and "it articulated a new sense of territoriality, which was marked by unprecedented awareness and state surveillance of the nation's contiguous land borders." 27 All Asians except for those from the Philippines since it was a Protectorate to the United States were excluded "on the grounds that they were racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship." 28 While arguing for a different quota system, the act's sponsors Albert Johnson and David Reed stated that the previous quotas had been based on the numbers of foreign-born in the population but not those born in America. When these quotas were calculated using numbers from the 1920s, they reflected those who were favored (84 per cent from northern and western Europe) versus those who were not (16 per cent from southern and eastern Europe). 29 The new law "restricted immigration to 155,000 a year, established temporary quotas based on 2 percent of the foreign-born population in 1890 census, and mandated the secretaries of labor, state, and commerce to determine quotas on the basis of national origins by 1927." 30 However, numerical limits were not imposed on countries of the Western hemisphere Overall, this Act helped to solidify the importance of "race" within our framework regarding immigration and citizenship. This law also established our Border Patrol which we have seen develop over time towards our South.
Immigration Act of 1965
At a time in which our nation was engaged in a Civil Rights Movement trying to ensure equal rights for all, immigration legislation was also moving towards the same goals. The Immigration Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, ended the national origins quota system that had been in place since the 1920's. A preference system based on the skills immigrants would bring with them or on family reunification was established. According to the Web Chronology Project, "More specifically, immigrants are accepted according to following preferences: unmarried adults whose parents are American citizens, spouses and offspring of permanent residents, gifted professionals, scientists, and artists. The last preferences are the following: married offspring of American citizens, siblings of adult citizens, skilled/unskilled individuals of occupations lacking workers in America, and refugees from either communist (or communist-controlled) countries, or those from the Middle-East." 31 Numerical restrictions on visas were set at 170,000 per year for the Eastern Hemisphere with a maximum of 20,000 per country and 120,000 per year for the Western Hemisphere. These numbers did not include immediate family members of current U.S. citizens nor special immigrants. The smaller limit on Western hemisphere numbers also reflected the growing concern of Mexican migration across the U.S. – Mexico border. The Act's sponsors and President Johnson never thought that the 1965 Immigration Act would completely reconfigure immigration the way that it has where people from Latin American and Asia account for the majority of the immigration to the United States today.
Mexico and the United States: An Intertwined History – the Beginning
Mexico and the United States share a unique past, an interesting relationship that has been based on change over time, a type of tug-of-war between the two countries for land and labor. To better understand this relationship it is vital for my students to have at least a basic level of knowledge of the past to better comprehend the present and to grasp the ideas behind the laws/policies. This portion of American history is briefly accessed in the United States history course we offer at our school. But, I would bet that most of my students – although they may recognize the fact that in less than twenty years in the mid-1800s we acquired two-thirds of Mexico's territory – they would find it difficult to explain the how's and why's of this acquisition and the consequences to the people of these areas. So, my students will review the facts that will aid them in their understanding.
In this second section, I will have students reflect back on information that was covered in the previous unit on the Mexico/United States border reviewing the early struggles with Mexico to acquire their lands that would enable the United States to claim its Manifest Destiny.
Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. These lands included what is now considered: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Movement throughout the southwest at this time was pretty free in nature. Many settlers traveled south into the territory to establish themselves. In fact, as Americans began to move west in large numbers, they also moved into the Texas territory (Tejas) belonging to Mexico, as it had not established a strong border control. Governor Ann Richards, highlighted in the Ken Burns series, The West, states:
- I think it was an opportunity for adventure for them.
- A lot of people came to Texas because they were running
- from the law or running from a bad family situation, a bad
- marriage. Texas was filled with, shall we say, fringe society.
- But it was also filled with a lot of people who really did
- want something more than what they had and thought they
- might find it on the frontier. 32
To try and curb this, Mexico passed the Immigration Act of 1824. There was concern about culture clashes between the two groups of people and the fact that Americans were also bringing their slaves to the areas as well. Numbers of foreigners steadily increased as did concern for those numbers so in 1830 a more strict law "curtailing" immigration was passed. This did not, however, stop people from coming into the area that then created an entire group of undocumented immigrants of Anglo foreign nationals. Overall, the people of Tejas did not feel supported by their government so 'far away' in Mexico City and, after a number of battles, Tejas, won independence from Mexico to become the Lone Star Republic. 33 Confusion ensued regarding the southern part of its border – what belonged to whom? Texas in 1845 was admitted as a state into the Union.
The Mexican government was eager not to lose any additional lands so it campaigned to populate the northern parts of the territory (California and Nuevo Mexico) by offering land grants. 34 The newly appointed President Polk's aimed to fulfill Manifest Destiny. Texas became part of the Union within his first year of presidency. Sent. He also sent troops to the disputed border of Texas and due to an incident on April 25, 1846, Congress declared war which lasted from 1846-1848.
Following the defeat of the Mexican army and the fall of Mexico City, in September 1847, the Mexican government surrendered and peace negotiations began. The war officially ended on February 2, 1848, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo adding 525,000 square miles to United States territory to include all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Mexico also gave up all claims to Texas and recognized the Rio Grande as America's southern boundary. In return, the United States paid Mexico $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico. 35 Mexicans on the "middle ground area" could become citizens of the United States or move south. 80,000 Mexicans were granted citizenship. This was after a debate that ensued between John Calhoun and John Dix in Congress (1848) as to whether Mexico should become part of the United States. After the Mexican War, ideas differed as to what should happen to Mexico and the people. The acquisition of this land could mean an area for slavery and/or mineral/land wealth. Calhoun and Dix used race as to support their arguments though they differ in their opinions. Calhoun was against the incorporation of these people as they were not of the "white race." Dix disagreed, saying that we should acquire the Mexican territory, looking to use this as a measure to secure peace in the area. He noted that it is inevitable that "our population is destined to spread itself across the American continent, filling up, with more or less completeness, according to attractions of soil and climate, the space that intervenes between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans." 36 He pointed out that the "aboriginal peoples" need to "give way" to this destiny.
Land disputes and political tensions remained high for the six years after the end of the War. Additionally, from the latest agreement between the two countries, The United States had agreed to protect Mexico from Native American attacks. Mexico wanted monetary compensation for those who had suffered. Furthermore, American citizens were entering illegally into Mexico at great numbers, causing rebellions and trouble in their quest for land. "The Gadsden Purchase, or Treaty, was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, finalized in 1854, in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico. Gadsden's Purchase provided the land necessary for a southern transcontinental railroad and attempted to resolve conflicts that lingered after the Mexican-American War." 37
Twentieth Century Entanglements – More Recent Action
Stephen Pitti came to our seminar to engage in a conversation about the history of Latino immigration and migration. In his conversation with us, he spoke about a few of the influential laws that have affected the population. He believes that Mexican immigration is very different from any other group of people as it has been a constant back and forth for over one hundred years. In his words, it has become an "institutionalized migration". One of my questions for him during our time together was about the particular U.S. laws that impacted Latinos – in particular, the Mexican people. He spoke of the Bracero Program as being the most important, in his opinion. Here, I have included information about this Guest Worker Program which impacted individuals, families, towns on both sides of the border), and U.S. – Mexico relations. Additionally, I believe students will benefit from knowing about the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and the California State Proposition 187. Both of these also had a strong impact on the same groups of peoples as the Bracero Program helping to shape their identity and place within the United States.
The Bracero Program
The Bracero (translated from Spanish as manual laborer) Program was an agreement between Mexico and the United States that was implemented in 1942 and ended in 1965. It served as a Guest Worker Program, or workers who are given special permission to come to a country (the United States) from another (Mexico) to work for an agreed upon amount of time. During this time over 4,600,000 Mexican men in 28 states 38 labored in the agricultural industry and railroads. The agreement began during World War II, in response to wartime labor shortages and increased agricultural labor demands to provide food to feed the public as well as the troops. 39 We needed workers so we looked towards Mexico to assist us. For the farms and companies who supplied the positions, it was a winning situation in that the Mexicans became preferred workers. The program was not without controversy. As in the past, Americans were fearful of having to compete with Mexicans for "jobs and lower wages." However, according to the Bracero Project, a collaborative effort amongst the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and News Media, the George Mason University, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Brown University, and the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas at El Paso,
- In theory, the Bracero Program had safeguards to protect both
- Mexican and domestic workers for example, guaranteed payment
- of at least the prevailing area wage received by native workers; employment for three-fourths of the contract period; adequate,
- sanitary, and free housing; decent meals at reasonable prices;
- occupational insurance at employer's expense; and free
- transportation back to Mexico at the end of the contract.
- Employers were supposed to hire braceros only in areas of
- certified domestic labor shortage, and were not to use them as strikebreakers. 40
The government (Consulates) was to oversee the working and living conditions of these laborers including payment in which they were to receive an equitable wage according to where they were sent. This was not always the case. Pitti explained that there were many violations of the terms and many of the Bracero workers were exploited because of their vulnerability due to language differences, distance from home in unfamiliar areas, and those overseeing the program were far from where the workers were located.
Additionally, farms especially became dependent on Mexican migrant workers as an inexpensive workforce. After living here for so long, Mexican workers became accustomed to their new environments and did not want to leave. And, although they were told that their transportation back to Mexico would be paid for, it was not. 41
In the 1950s when economic times began to worsen, there was another backlash centered on Mexicans. This was referred to as Operation Wetback and was reminiscent of the repatriation efforts that occurred during the Great Depression when 400,000 people were sent back to Mexico including almost half who were U.S. citizens. 42 The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) looked for undocumented workers to send back to Mexico. It is estimated that 1,000,000 people were sent back to Mexico including U.S. citizens who were children of the undocumented workers. Even after the Bracero Program ended, farms and corporations still claimed a need for this labor force. In response, the government created what is referred to as a H-2A Visa that allows for a variety of people to enter the United States for a limited time period as "specialty workers, farm workers, non-agricultural workers, trainees, and family members of those with H-2A Visas." 43 Afterwards, beginning with the 1965 Act, the government responded by beginning to limit the visas in the Western Hemisphere having Mexicans compete with all those vying for the visas including Cubans. 44 However, despite all, there was still a need for the Mexican labor force and they still came whether they had documentation or not. It was commonly known as a "clandestine guest worker program." 45
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
This law, also known as the 1986 Amnesty, with the aim to control illegal immigration, was referred to as the "three-Legged Stool" because of the three main parts: legalization for undocumented immigrants, employer sanctions, and heightened border enforcement. 46 It enabled 1,300,000 undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for legal status if they met certain requirements. One set of qualifications included "that they lived and maintained a continuous physical presence in the U.S. since January 1st, 1982, possess a clean criminal record, and provide proof of registration within the Selective Service." 47 Additionally, applicants were required to have a minimal knowledge of U.S. history and the English language or be enrolled in a course of study. 48 The law also included sanctions, financial and otherwise, for employers who hire undocumented workers. The I-9 Form was introduced for employers to confirm a worker's identity and eligibility for employment in the United States. It also called for increased border control. It is significant in that it remains in effect today –almost thirty years later. However, some things did not turn out as expected. First, many more immigrants were processed than expected. Numbers exceeded initial thoughts. Although employers were now required to ask for certain legal documents to hire employees there was still some flexibility in the type of documents. This being the case, there was widespread fraudulence of documentation. More recently, the government is having a small percentage of employers use an E-Verify system that uses "immigration and social security databases to determine whether new hires are authorized to work." Due to recent legislation, many more will be required to use this system instead of the IRCA paperwork I-9 one. 49 Lastly, as seen since IRCA, funding for border enforcement has increased dramatically from hiring new staff to manage and patrol to creating more fences and other barriers.
California State Proposition 187
In November of 1994, voters in California passed Proposition 187 also known as the "Save Our State" initiative at a two to one ratio. There was an overwhelming concern with the economic hardships undocumented people placed on the state and the peoples' tax dollars. This proposed legislation denied health care, education, and welfare to the undocumented persons in the state of California. It made law enforcement personnel, teachers, social service, and health care workers responsible for verifying the legal status of their clients. If they were found to be undocumented migrants these providers were to deny them services and report them to the authorities. Right after being signed into law, various civil rights groups filed lawsuits to prevent the legislation to come into effect. In 1997, Federal District Courts deemed the proposition an "unconstitutional attempt by the government of California to regulate immigration, contrary to the supremacy clause and preemption doctrine." 50 In the following year came the definitive Federal District Court ruling that overturned major provisions. Afterwards California went through a governor election resulting in new leadership, Gray Davis, who sought to mediate an end to the suits rather than continue with a lengthy appeal process. By 1999, both sides including the state of California had agreed to end the litigation preventing the major controversial provisions – denial of services to undocumented migrants and turning in suspected unauthorized migrants to federal and state authorities – to go into effect.
This particular legislation saw an incredible amount of legal and social protest that galvanized civil rights groups across California and our country. This is important as we continue to see this type of response – the Dream Act and the most current border issues.
Students come into our Distance Learning Laboratory with varying skills – technological, conversational, writing, and reading. All of these skills are essential to their academic success – in our classroom and beyond. I need to employ teaching strategies that work towards strengthening these skills throughout the school year. One can talk with a number of my school colleagues to know that while my conversational, reading, and writing skills were strong I still needed to improve upon my technological skills! Immersing myself in this Distance Laboratory helped me to improve upon these skills. I searched out multiple opportunities to learn from my colleagues, district personnel, and spent numerous hours working with different types of practices such as Video Chat or Google Docs. My ultimate goal is to ready these students for the 21 st century learning that will be expected of them when they leave high school to pursue higher education or enter the workforce. This unit is early in the year and students must be working towards mastering the following strategies at the very beginning of our course to be successful throughout the year.
Students need to learn how to work together to accomplish goals – those set by the teacher and themselves. This is a basic requirement for many positions or jobs that they will hold in the future. Working together, relying on each other helps to build team-working skills. This strategy is somewhat challenging for us in that there are two groups of students at three different high schools. For the intense conversations that follow the readings of important concepts such as gender, race, or religion a facilitator must be certain that there is a strong sense of camaraderie, trust, and willingness to work with and listen to others in the group. In collaborative learning, each group member is accountable to each other, dependent upon each other and contributes the established goals. Everyone has some strength to share. 51 Together, more is accomplished. Opportunities to learn about each other before and while working help to promote the collegiality and cohesiveness necessary to work well together. Individual and group evaluations are necessary to monitor the group's work (product) and their progress in teamwork. This is essential especially for our environment of bringing students from three schools together via cameras and technology.
Technology is an essential part of classrooms today, especially at the university level. I see part of my role, obviously in this Distance Learning Laboratory with thousands of dollars of technological equipment, to use it with the students so that they become proficient in this new language of technology. Google Docs is one of the ways we have to provide students with a collaborative opportunity to participate in a joint writing process. Students will work with their peers to complete a piece of writing in response to a film, summarizing the key points to a lecture or reading, amongst others. I tell students that this skill they are perfecting in the classroom today will be beneficial to them at the university level in which they can work with their classmates across campus in completing group assignments without even meeting once! As an instructor, you can create and assign a Google Doc to group members. Also, feedback can be easily given even while a student (or students) is working on an assignment. Additionally, it is easily monitored through the Revision History, so that an instructor can keep track of who has completed what. Furthermore, for my teaching situation it helps to build partnerships between the students in three different schools. Students will be grouped together – individuals from all three schools – to collaborate on understanding, summarizing, and synthesizing multiple sources.
Another technological feature used in this unit is the blog known as a Discussion on Edline (the on-line system that our district chooses to use). A blog is an interactive site in which posts occur usually on a daily basis. Using a question or statement, I can preview what will be discussed and/or looked at that day or review or clarify something from the previous day's lesson. For an instructor and the students, this is an invaluable tool. For the instructor, it enables you to see what students understand and may have misconceived in addition to what they think. I like to have them write about the why of what they think, helping me to better understand their viewpoints. This also enables them to think before they speak as we use their blog posts as a means of conversation as well. For students, they are able to see their written conversations and leave multiple comments as well as questions for each other. This is a great pre- and post- activity for the day's lesson in which the same question or statement is added to at the end of the day's lesson helping all parties to see individual and group progress in regard to comprehending a point or concept.
This year I will continue to take the use of this strategy even further. Many college courses are now using this feature. Students post on-line outside of class and are scored/graded on the quality of their posts. I will work with the students at the beginning of our time together to establish a rubric that will be used for them to be graded for their posts. I have noticed from teaching this course before that students need to cite the evidence within their work as reflected in the rubric (to score well). They need to identify this evidence in their work so that they can truly "see" it to understand why or why not they receive credit. As much as possible, I want to emulate what they will experience next or the following year at college.
Primary Sources/Document Analysis
I find that my students seem to want activities in which they are to read a piece of text – not too difficult – and answer some questions. The idea of having difficulty, needing to think, and not knowing if they are "thinking correctly" – meaning, getting the right answer is something that I am constantly battling. Students complain, get upset, and all too often give up. Since I know that students are expected, when they go to college, to read and comprehend multiple, difficult texts, analyze them, and use these for application purposes – I know that I need to help them do this – especially since they will most likely be doing these things on their own. The use of primary sources is a rich opportunity for students to be engaged in the learning process, construct knowledge, and develop critical thinking skills. 52 Students will have access to information on a more personal level – being able to empathize with someone's narrative versus an excerpt from a textbook about a historical account enables students to humanize historical content. Using multiple sources also allows for students to view a place in time or event from multiple perspectives allowing them to "see" more. According to the Common Core standards students must be able to use primary (and/or secondary sources) to determine its' key ideas and details as well as be able to interpret the craft and structure of the words used and the complexity of the piece. It asks that social studies teachers assist in teaching students how to read texts. The reading for the informational text section highlights a variety of things that we should be doing with our students. Regarding Key Ideas and Details, we should help them to: cite specific textual evidence from sources, connect insights to better understand text, determine the central ideas or information from a source, and provide a comprehensive summary with key ideas and details to support them. To help with this, the National Archives has a variety of document analysis worksheets that serve as guides for students while they will look and evaluate a variety of primary sources including photographs, cartoons, posters, and motion pictures, among others. I will modify the Written Document form for my students to use so that it also reflects the above Common Core standards that I want them to achieve. Additionally, there will be a section that asks students to reflect/write down what they want to share with others in the class as I am also trying to have them develop their speaking skills.
I have noticed that my students tend to talk before thinking and are more interested in hearing themselves than their fellow classmates. Being able to think critically about a text before discussing it and then listening to others are important skills necessary for academic success and life-long ability to understand better another person's viewpoint. The weight of the conversation is left to the participants – in this case the students. They must critically look at and read the texts before coming to class and be prepared with questions and comments they would like to focus on. This is vital to the conversation's success. I want them to experience what it is to be in college in a small seminar-type atmosphere. Additionally, I believe if they are made responsible for this it will help them to better comprehend the content of the text which they are expected to master and be able to do well on the exams mandated by the local community college will lead to the grade that will determine if they receive college credit or not.
The unit is divided into three sections: Personal Narratives of Immigrants, United States Immigration Laws and Policies, and Mexico – Case Study.
One – Personal Narratives of Immigrants
This lesson gives students an opportunity to learn about the reasons why people immigrate as well as how to view immigration from complex vantage points instead of just one perspective by focusing on the questions – Who are considered foreign-born and how are their life chances in the United States shaped by a number of factors associated with their arrival? Students will first reflect on their views and understandings of the topic of immigration/immigrants. Using a Classroom Blog, they will write what they believe they know, have heard, or read about. Students should indicate from where they are getting their information. As per Mary Lui, it often teaches them to realize that they haven not been too critical about their own sources of information and hopefully will make them more active consumers of information. This will be helpful for them in college and beyond. Afterwards, they will discuss what they have written and compare and contrast each other's responses. Then, they will read the novel, The Book of Unknown Americans. This is a novel that will hit home with the students as it takes place here in our area! In small groups using Google Docs, students will take notes about the text depicting the stories of each of the characters living in the Wilmington/Newark area. The use of memory maps will also be encouraged here in which students will create a map of the area of Kirkwood Highway between Wilmington and Newark based on their memories of the area– having students make connections between the sites in the novel and what they know regarding the area. Students will be able to answer the above questions through the use of the book's characters. For example, one of these characters, Benny Quinto, left his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man searching for economic opportunities. He borrowed money, traveled northward and paid a Coyote to help him get across the U.S. – Mexico border. Through many hardships, he went from Arizona to Baltimore and then to Delaware. While in our state he has worked for Wendy's and Burger King. Students will be able to identify where on Kirkwood Highway he has worked. They will also be able to go those establishments and see who is working in fast food restaurants such as these and why. Additionally, students will also look at the New York Times website, The Way North, for further information about immigrants' narratives. Afterwards, students will be re-grouped and share their notes to prepare for the Socratic Seminar in which various questions will be posed.
Two – United States Immigration Laws and Policies
This lesson focuses on our country's immigration laws and policies over time. Students will concentrate on the questions, What is the role of race and ethnicity in immigration policy? and How does the legal status of the foreign-born vary by country of origin and how it is often connected to socially constructed categories of race and ethnicity?
First, students will view a variety of political cartoons depicting the laws/policies on which we will focus. They will use the National Archives Analysis Guide to concentrate on the themes of symbolism, exaggeration, labeling, irony, and analogy to better understand the meaning of these primary sources. Then, students will view the actual legislation and be guided through the more difficult pieces deepening their understanding of the vocabulary associated with them. There are multiple political cartoons available in public domain. One that I will use with my students refers to the Immigration Act of 1924 in which Uncle Sam uses a funnel to "let in" 3% of the masses trying to gain access to the United States. Having students use the Analysis Guide will focus on the themes important to understand the cartoon to better understand the legislation.
Three – Mexico Case Study
In the last section, students will combine what they already know about the Mexican/US border from a previous unit with the new information specific to the immigration laws and policies as they pertain to Mexico. The Bracero Program will be highlighted in this section. The Smithsonian has a great collection of primary sources – photographs and first-person accounts of the experience as a guest worker. Students will pair these readings with the program's historical information. The legislation of IRCA and Proposition 187 will also be introduced. Throughout the portion, students will return to the question How has the movement from Mexico to the United States changed over time according to the U.S. laws and how have these changes affected the identity of these people? Through the use of GoogleDocs and Blogs, students will work with others to summarize the policies the U.S. government has created and used with Mexico.
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