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Teaching Curious Minds About the Travel Ban in Your Classroom

Immediately getting started on fulfilling campaign promises that divided a nation in last year's election season, President Donald Trump has made the decision to sign a travel ban on refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This executive order has dominated news and conversations all weekend, bubbling over into this week's coverage.

For curious young minds in your classroom who have questions about the travel ban, here are some resources to refer to in order to facilitate a productive conversation rooted in history.

A History of Restrictive Immigration Polices in the U.S.

Catholic social justice group NETWORK has compiled a useful resource that summarizes the history of U.S. immigration polices leading up to this point.

The detailed account traces restrictive immigration laws all the way back to the French revolution, when fear of French immigrants was prevalent, to the exclusion of Chinese immigrants from the late 1880s all the way till the 1940s.

"The history of immigration policy demonstrates a clear pattern of policy decisions catered towards the need of the economy followed by fear of the stranger," NETWORK concludes after its analysis.

This analysis helps explain why the current travel ban on seven countries has been put into place while providing historical context for interested students. Plus, depending on what subject you teach, you might even be able to seamlessly tie this into a current lesson. View the resource in its entirety here.

Harvard University Library Open Collections Program's 'Immigration to the US'

Harvard University's Library Open Collections Program includes "over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs" that provide insight on the history of immigration in the U.S.

Covering topics more in-depth than NETWORK's analysis, educators have access to materials that are separated into three categories:

  • The Immigrant Diaspora
  • New Lives
  • Restricting Immigration

The resource also includes a comprehensive timeline dating back to 1789 concerning key dates and landmarks in U.S. immigration history. 

Stories from Ellis Island

The National Park Service has compiled in its Ellis Island Oral History Collection over 2,000 interviews from immigrants who have come over to begin new lives in the U.S.

Interviews cover topics like expectations before coming, adjusting to life in America and holding on to homeland traditions.

These stories provide a face to the immigrants from various countries who made their way to America.

Educators interested in referencing any of the stories in their classroom have access to both audio clips and transcripts, both of which can be downloaded for the convenience of accessing later without Internet.

Get started here.

New York Times' Interactive Maps of Global Migration

For students who learn better with visual aid and interactivity, this global map from the New York Times is perfect. The map includes figures such as average numbers of migrants, total share of the world's migrants, migrants as a percentage of each country's population, money sent home by migrants, and money sent home by migrants as a percentage of each country's GDP for students to get a comprehensive look at current migration numbers ahead of last week's travel ban.

Education World's Immigration Resource Roundup

Last year, Education World's veteran educator contributor Keith Lambert compiled a series of resources for educators to use "to develop student understanding of the many perspectives found within this intense national debate."

Those resources can be found here.

Resources for Teaching Tolerance of Opinion

Since the issue of immigration is such a polarizing one in the U.S. presently, students may have varying opinions and therefore might need extra encouragement to be respectful of dissenting thoughts. Here are a few resources to do just that:

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor




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