Immigrants and the U.S. Constitution
Curriculum type: Unit
Academic subject area: History/Social Sciences
States' Career Clusters: Government & Public Administration; Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Secruity
California Industry sector(s): Public Services
Duration: 3 class periods
Grade Targets: 9, 10, 11, 12
Level of Expertise for CTE: All
Standards Addressed: Detailed documentation of alignment with Common Core, State and/or Industry Standards included
Source: Organization/Publisher-developed Credit: P.O.V., Public Broadcasting Service
Curriculum Link: http://www.pbs.org/pov/thesixthsection/lesson_plan.php
One of the duties of legislative aids is to prepare background reports on key issues for the Representative or Senator they serve. In this activity, students will take the role of a Congressional legislative aid serving a House Member representing Newburgh, NY. Students will prepare a report on an issue related to the immigrants they “meet” in the film, The Sixth Section (all of whom live in Newburgh).
Expected Student Outcomes/Objectives
This lesson will help students:
• learn more about current immigrant experience
• investigate U.S. immigration and labor laws
• consider the meaning of citizenship
• gain knowledge about the economics of poverty
• practice research skills
• practice persuasive writing skills
Step 1: Identifying the Issues (40 minutes)
Show The Sixth Section and ask students to think about how government policies might make life better or worse for the men they see in the film.
Note: For teachers wishing to engage students in a deeper discussion of the film, see the discussion guide posted at www.pbs.org/pov/pov2003/thesixthsection/resources_guide.html
Step 2: Assign Groups (20 minutes)
Explain to students that they are legislative aids assigned to help their representative, who serves
Newburgh, NY, figure out what position to take on an issue or piece of legislation that will affect the immigrants living in their district. Students can work as individuals or in groups on any ONE of the issues listed below:
Minimum Wage (Fair Labor Standards Act)
Border Security and Immigration Reform Act
National Labor Relations Act
Remittances and Banking Law Reform
North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA)
Get students started by briefly describing each issue and distributing the handouts provided in this guide.
Step 3: Preparing the Report (outside of class)
Students will research their issue and write a 2-5 page report for their legislator that includes:
The Introduction – a brief summary of the essence of the issue and the position they are recommending.
The Argument – the major evidence in favor of their position
The Counterargument – the major evidence against their position and an explanation of why that evidence is not as convincing as the evidence in favor of their position.
The Conclusion – a summary of the position that logically flows from their argument.
Step 4: Class Discussion (one class period)
Hold a class discussion about each of the assigned issues. Ask students to consider whether their position might change if they were writing the report for a legislator from a different part of the country (e.g., the Texas border instead of Newburgh, NY).
Culminating Activity and/or Assessment
Step 5: Assessment
Ask students to draft reports of their recommendations, including the evidence supporting their position. Evaluate the reports on clarity and quality of argument. If reports are unacceptable, ask students to re-write until they are of high enough quality to send to their elected Federal representatives and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who deal with immigration and labor issues. Committee assignments are available at: www.congress.org or www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Reserve 20 minutes of class time later in the semester to share and discuss any responses the students receive.
Instructional Materials Needed
VHS of "The Sixth Section" from PBS POV
VCR & Monitor
Access to the Internet for student research
Instructional Materials Provided
Curriculum instructions, background information, handouts, and additional resource links.
Curriculum free. Film Institutional price: $200; community/grassroots organizations $75 (+$10 shipping); personal use $29.95 ((+$10 shipping)