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Discussion Questions about Immigration in the U.S.

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

After learning about the history of immigration in the United States, use the following discussion questions to help students think critically about what they have learned. These questions are designed with middle and high school students in mind.

Immigration in the United States

Culture in the United States is often referred to as a ''melting pot'' because it is a blend of so many different cultures coming together. This is thanks to the legacy of immigration in the country. After discussing immigration with your middle and high school students, use these questions to help them think critically about the topic. The questions are broken down into sections on historic and modern immigration in the country. Use whichever section fits what your students have learned (or both!).

The History of Immigration in the United States

  • A flaw of the melting plot analogy is that it leads people to believe that distinct elements of cultures are lost to an overall greater culture. Can you think of a better analogy to describe immigration in the United States - one that shows the U.S. culture is a blend of others, but that still gives credit to the original elements of the cultures?
  • In regards to immigration, there have been several historical events that most people in the country look back on with embarrassment. Of these, what stands out to you the most? Why?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ''The United States should have the most liberal immigration policy in the world. After all, almost every citizen can trace his or her heritage to immigrants.'' Please be prepared to explain your answer.
  • How have different world events and conflicts shaped immigration policy in the United States? Think of a few specific examples to provide support for your answer.
  • What is the best way to explain the legacy of Ellis Island to someone who has never heard of it before? What would you want them to walk away remembering?
  • Historically speaking, what U.S. immigration trends have stayed the same over time? What has changed? Using what you know about culture and politics in the United States, what makes the country such an attractive place for immigrants to move to?

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