Refugees and National Security
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Today, we face a global refugee crisis. Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes in the Middle East and Europe, and many families from Central America seek asylum here in the US. This mass movement of people has generated a great deal of conversation: some people rush to welcome refugees, while others protest their arrival. This raises questions about how America should respond. In this lesson, students will have a chance to explore their opinions on this issue.
Estimated Time: One class period
Level: 11th – 12th grade
Civil Dialogue & Critical Thinking
By the end of this lesson, students will have learned:
- Collaboration: students will work together and learn from each other through discussion
- Civil conversation and conflict resolution: students will learn how to listen, understand and respect one another’s views, especially when there are differences of opinion and background.
- Research and analysis: students will have a deeper understanding of different perspectives (including their own, their classmates, and the country at large) through researching and discussing
See how this program complies with Common Core standards.
Tools & Resources Provided By AS4S & Our Partners
- The Homeland Security Topic Page on AllSides will give your students a good understanding of the background of this issue. AllSides Topic pages provide background information, current news and opinions, think tanks and more.
- The Think Tank Search on AllSides allows you to search through Think Tanks that represent different political perspectives.
- The AllSides Balanced Dictionary reveals how different people from across the political spectrum think and feel about the same term or issue. Utilize these terms: Illegals, Immigration, Belief/Believers, Freedom of Religion – Religious Freedom – Religious Liberty, Religion, Refugee, Compassion, Terrorism, War on Terror and National Defense & National Security
Suggested Curriculum / Class Plan
Homework Prior to Class
Students will spend 10-20 min looking at the most recent news about Homeland Security from different perspectives.
If you’d like to have an in-class discussion, divide students into small groups, preferably with a mix of biases. (Educator may need to have students complete a simple bias quiz for homework 2 days prior so the Educator has a chance to evaluate relevant classroom biases, if a similar test has never been conducted previously.)If you’d like to have an online discussion with a classroom that holds different political views, utilize the Mismatch platform.
Pick and choose from the following list of discussion questions, and give students time to discuss them in small groups. If time permits, also have students come back into a larger class-wide discussion to share their thoughts.
- What do you know about the global refugee crisis?
- Should America accept more or less refugees than we are already? Or should we take none at all?
- Should our country play a bigger role in solving the global conflicts that are causing the mass exodus?
- How might stereotyping Muslims lead to blaming them?
- Why should refugees be accepted in foreign countries (including our own)? Why shouldn’t they? What lead to you to these beliefs?
- Do you think the vetting process is strict enough to be resettled in the U.S.?
- Should we take children (who some consider are less of a risk) without their parents?
- Is it ethical to accept Christian refugees and not Muslim ones?
- Is it ethical to ask refugees their religion?
- How would you feel if you were a refugee and had to flee your home and move to another country? How would you feel if multiple countries didn’t want to take you in, based on where you were coming from?
- Engraved on the Statue of Liberty is Emma Lazarus’ poem:
Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
How do you think those words apply to the situation we are facing today? Are they still relevant?
Deeper Meaning questions:
- How have you been personally impacted by the refugee crisis in the Middle East?
- Do you have concerns about your family’s safety? If so what are you most worried about?
- Which American values are most in play or at risk in considering Muslim refugees for resettlement in the U.S.?
- Do you have people of Muslim faith in your community? What role do they play?
- Is it possible to be welcoming of refugees and concerned about terrorists crossing borders? If so, what kinds of solutions could address both considerations?
- Was there something you were hoping to ask or share in this conversation?
Final Questions to pose to students, either as homework or just as a wrap up:
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
Optional Homework Assignments
- Have students write a 300 word reflection after the class discussion — what did they learn? Did they have any interesting disagreements? Why do they think discussions about our environment matter?