A new lesson for high school students uses primary sources to engage students, including those whose reading levels may not yet be at grade level, in exploring the changes in policy in who is admitted to the United States.
Initiatives to restrict specific groups of people from immigrating to the US are important topics in US History, included in standards for the US History I and US History II high school classes. This lesson uses the 21st century “travel ban,” ruled constitutional in 2018, as an entry point to explore previous shifts in US immigration policy.
Students will use primary sources to examine social contexts of three specific immigration laws (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Immigration Acts of 1921 & 1924, and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952) in order to understand who was banned or excluded from the US and why. Lesson materials and activities are designed so that English learners and others who may struggle with written text are able to fully participate in exploring the primary sources and evaluating connections between policy and historical context. The teaching notes at the end of the lesson outline provide support for teaching the topic of immigration and other potentially charged and controversial issues in American classrooms. Download Lesson PDF