The United States Land of Immigrants

by Howard Seretan

What study of America’s history could be more appropriate than an examination of who we are and where we came from? The history of immigrants in the United States proves that we are a unique and successful nation. In this unit we study the origins of our newcomers, their contributions to the building of the nation and the problems they faced and resolved. In addition, we join the debate on restrictive immigration, assimilation and cultural diversity. No understanding of American history is complete without a knowledge of this subject. Are Americans significantly different from one another? Students will be able to: Debate the question, “What is an American?” Define cultural pluralism and melting pot Use charts and graphs to trace dates and numbers of different immigrant groups that came to America Use census bureau statistics to find the number of immigrants from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa Read and review the experiences of immigrants to explain that cultures handle basic situations differently Discuss the following statement: “Different no longer suggests inferior or negative.” “We should respect each others differences.” What if the difference includes female circumcision? List several similarities between different cultures Answer the question, “Are we Americans significantly different?” Has the United States encouraged cultural diversity? Students will be able to Define E Pluribus Unum, melting pot, cultural pluralism and cultural diversity Read segments from “The Crucible” by Israel Zangwill and explain the main idea of the play Read excerpts from writers who differ on the question of the melting pot as against cultural pluralism. Explain which of them agree or disagree with the author of the Crucible List foreign words that have become part of the English language List foods available in this country that have a foreign origin Write an essay on, "Is it possible for Americans to favor both E Pluribus and cultural pluralism? Debate the question, "Has cultural diversity strengthened America? Has immigration benefited the United States? Students will be able to: Explain the reasons for the United States becoming a land of immigrants Evaluate the ideas of Americans opposed to immigration Explain how racism and religious bigotry were factors in opposition to immigration Use personal documents from immigrants as a basis for a discussion on why they came to America Discuss the statement, "It was the immigrant who provided the muscle and sweat that built our nation" Debate the question, "Could the United States become the powerful nation it is today without the millions of immigrants who came to our shores?" How did immigrants adjust to life in America? Students will be able to: Describe the problems of poverty and exploitation faced by many of the immigrants Evaluate the help immigrants received from family, government, ethnic organizations unions and political machines Agree or disagree with the statement below, "Most of the immigrants never escaped poverty or the ghettos in which they lived, it was their children and grandchildren who achieved the American dream." Answer the question, "Was coming to America worth the effort for most of our newcomers?" Have our immigration laws been just? Students will be able to: list and explain the federal laws that restricted immigration Describe how a number of these laws discriminated against racial and ethnic groups Evaluate the statement "The limits on immigration imposed by the National Origins Act of 1928 were timely and good for the country." Explain how the Immigration act of 1965 reversed the National Origins act of 1928 Debate the question "Have our immigration laws been just?"

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