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8th - 11th
1965 - Present
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Academic Standards (1)

CCSS English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6: Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

NCSS C3 Framework

  • D4.4.9-12: Critique the use of claims and evidence in arguments for credibility.
Poster with illustration of woman smiling and text, "Dream Act Now!"
Poster, "Dream Act Now!"

Key Terms and Concepts

  • Manifest Destiny
  • expansionism
  • annexation
  • incorporate (land)

Essential Questions

How do restrictions on immigration shape our ideas about citizenship and belonging?
How does immigration policy favor the entry of particular groups and restrict others?
How has the debate over immigration evolved and persisted through American history?


DREAMers Today

Students will synthesize and analyze differing points of view relating to the DACA debate through reading primary and secondary sources and writing an essay that relates to the lesson’s essential questions.


Warm Up (1)

  • Have students read the poem “Harlem” (Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes and respond to this prompt: “What are some of your dreams? What could prevent your dreams from coming true? What are three things that cause people’s dreams to be deferred?”
  • Allow students to share and discuss their responses.

“Harlem” by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

       Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

       Or fester like a sore— And then run?

       Does it stink like rotten meat?

       Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet?

       Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

       Or does it explode?

Close Reading (1)

  • Define executive actions: a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.
  • Give examples from past administrations. Discuss how the power of executive action is different from legislation but that both can be used to form public policy. It’s important for students to understand that executive actions, including executive orders are not permanent and can be undone by future presidents.
  • Ask students if they’ve heard of the DREAM Act or DACA. What do they know? What questions do they have? Jot their responses in a list on the board.
  • Depending on what comes from step C, provide students with the following background: The terms DACA and “dreamers” are often used interchangeably. DREAMers got their name from the DREAM Act, a bill first proposed in 2001 and then again in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The bill, which never passed, would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States as temporary residents and, after meeting a series of requirements, as permanent residents who could ultimately earn U.S. citizenship. However, after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act three times, President Obama used his power of executive action to protect this group of immigrants by allowing DREAMers to remain in the country temporarily. That executive action is known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
  • Help students learn more about the policy details of DACA, the chronology of its evolution, and the political context that surrounds it. Begin by distributing copies of this infographic for students to reference. Then, show and discuss this short “DACA, Explained” video. Next, project and talk through this interactive timeline. Last, assign students to read and take notes on this "DACA Time Bomb” article about the fate of 800,000 DREAMers after President Trump rescinded DACA in September of 2017.

Primary and Secondary Source Stations (1)

Once students have a working understanding of DACA as policy, spend time learning about the very real and personal impact it has on its recipients, the DREAMers. Use these multimedia narratives to provide students with more than a single story about DREAMers:

Discussion (1)

Ask students to reflect on what they’ve learned so far (in steps 2 and 3, Executive actions, and testimonials). Have them identify any claims or arguments they heard about immigration policy.

Essay (1)

Assign students to synthesize their reading and analyze the debate in an essay that addresses one of these three questions (adapted from the unit’s essential questions):

  • How does the debate over DACA reflect ideas about belonging and citizenship?
  • Are claims made in the debate over the DREAMers that favor the protection of some groups over others?
  • How do the positions held reflect or contradict American values and liberal traditions?