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8th - 11th
1945 - 1980
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Academic Standards (1)

Lesson 1

CCSS English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1: Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

NCSS C3 Framework

  • D2.His.2.9-12: Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
  • D2.His.16.9-12: Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.

Lesson 2

CCSS English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1: Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

NCSS C3 Framework

  • D2.His.2.9-12: Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
  • D2.His.16.9-12: Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Hart-Cellar Act in front of crowd
President Lyndon Johnson signing Hart-Celler Act, 1965
Courtesy of the LBJ Presidential Library

Key Terms and Concepts

  • demographics
  • national origin
  • visa

Essential Questions

How do our immigration laws reflect or contradict American values and liberal traditions?
1
How has the debate over immigration evolved and persisted through American history?
2

Lessons

Lesson 1
Objective:

Students will compare and contrast the Hart-Celler Act with the national origins system by citing primary and secondary sources as evidence in the Exit Ticket.

Procedure:

Warm Up (1)

  • Pose the following Warm Up question to students: Do you think restrictions on immigration shape how Americans think about citizenship and belonging? Explain.
     
  • Ask students to share in a small group first, then as a whole group. Students can use Single Round Robin as a small group discussion structure.
     
  • After students share in a small group setting, ask students to share with the whole group.

Background Discussion (1)

  • Explain that in this lesson they will learn about the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (the Hart-Celler Act). Ask students to recall what other historic legislation was passed by Congress around that same time. Show images of President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
     
  • Facilitate a brief discussion, asking students:
    • What was happening with race relations in America during the 1960s?
    • How were Americans’ ideas about citizenship and belonging changing?
    • How might the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have influenced public opinion and political will on the topic of immigration?
    • Show images of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act of 1965 on Liberty Island.
       
  • Have students complete the Photo Analysis worksheet, probing them to think about the setting in particular. Why did Johnson choose New York City rather than Washington, D.C. for the ceremony?

Cartoon Analysis (1)

Just as the editorial cartoons examined in case study one reflect a period of anti-Chinese sentiment in the 19th century, cartoons from 1965 provide historical context for understanding how immigration policy changed during the civil rights era.

Close Reading (1)

Explain that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (The Hart-Celler Act) replaced the national origins system with a more inclusive policy and formed the basis of our current immigration laws.

  • Assign students to read “Introduction: The Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965." When done reading, have them turn-and-talk with a partner about the questions in the “Think About…” box at the bottom of the reading.
     
  • Then, have students work independently to write a “single sentence summary” on the back of the reading comparing the main difference in immigration law before and after the Hart-Celler Act was passed.
     
  • Next, have students read the text of the Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965 or selected excerpts, focusing on what is said in sections 1-3 of the law.
     
  • After reading, students should be able to list key provisions of Hart-Celler:
    • Abolished the national origins quota system (originally established in 1921 and modified in 1952).
    • Allocated 170,000 visas to countries in the Eastern Hemisphere and 120,000 to countries in the Western Hemisphere. This was the first time any numerical limitation had been placed on immigration from the Western Hemisphere. This increased the annual ceiling on immigrants from 150,000 to 290,000.
    • Non-quota immigrants and immediate relatives (i.e., spouses, minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21) were not to be counted as part of either the hemispheric or country ceiling.
    • Gave higher preference to the relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens than to applicants with special job skills.

Exit Ticket (1)

Close by having students write a one-paragraph response, comparing the Hart-Celler Act to the national origins system it replaced in terms of the Essential Question, “How do our immigration laws reflect or contradict American values and liberal traditions?”

Lesson 2
Objective:

Students will analyze the effects of the Hart-Celler Act by citing primary and secondary sources as evidence in a mock letter.

Procedure:

Warm Up (1)

Use Mix-Pair-Share to refresh and review the previous lesson. Suggested questions include:

  • What was the national origins system?
     
  • Who signed the Hart-Cellar Act?
     
  • What is the name of one of the two acts LBJ signed before the Hart-Cellar Act?

Discussion (1)

  • Explain that the Hart-Celler Act did not pass without controversy. The legislation sparked intense debate, both in the political realm and in popular opinion.
     
  • Provide students with primary source documents related to the debate, including the “A Special Message to Congress” and newspaper articles from 1964-1965.
     
  • Assign students to complete the "What Side of History?" worksheet, identifying what position each speaker takes on the question of immigration reform. Do they support or oppose Hart-Celler? What arguments or reasons do they put forth to defend their position? Students must use evidence from the texts.
     
  • Debrief the readings and worksheet. Take notes on the board as students share their responses. Help students identify distinctions between arguments and how people can arrive at the same position but for different reasons.

Close Reading (1)

  • In this final part of the lesson, draw students’ attention to the fact that the Hart-Cellar Act represented a radical break from previous immigration policy. People did not realize what a profound effect its passing would have on the country’s demographic changes. The prevailing focus at the time—during the height of the civil rights movement and amid the Cold War—was on the democratic principles of freedom and equality. The racialized nature of the national origins system had become an increasing source of embarrassment and hypocrisy for the United States, which wanted to be seen as the leader of democracies around the world. Perhaps nowhere is this predictive failure more apparent than in the words of President Lyndon B. Johnson himself, who in his remarks at the bill’s signing in 1965 said: "The bill that we sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power.”
     
  • Have students read an excerpted portion or the full text of President Johnson's “Remarks at the Signing of the Immigration Bill, October 3, 1965.”
     
  • Once they have completed the reading, return students’ attention to the part of Johnson’s remarks that begins with, “"The bill that we sign today is not a revolutionary bill…” President Johnson’s prediction was clearly very wrong. Today, the United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 40 million people living in the United States were born in another country, making up about one-fifth of the world’s migrant population in 2015. The American immigrant population is also very diverse, representing almost every country in the world.

Independent Research (1)

Exit Ticket (1)

Allow students time to research and write their letters.

Materials: