During this unit we had our students read a book excerpt dealing with immigration issues from the 1940s along with a contemporary article about the experience of a Mexican family in San Diego. These readings were the initial activity for this unit and were used in order to give students a feel for how these issues have not changed substantially in the United States since the early 20th century.
Cajas de cartón: relatos de la vida peregrina de un niño campesino, by Francisco Jiménez, Chapter 1: "Bajo la alambrada." This book is the author's account of his family's illegal entry into the United States from Mexico during the 1940s. (Available in English: The Circuit, by Francisco Jiménez, Chapter 1: "Under the Wire.")
"Column One: A family's painful split decision." Los Angeles Times article from April 27, 2007, by Anna Gorman, tells the story of parents who were deported to Tijuana, leaving their three U.S.-born children in San Diego so that the children might have greater opportunities in life.
During this unit we watched three films relating to immigrants from Latin America, in which our students were able to meet a handful of immigrants and learn their stories.
El Norte, by Gregory Nava. (In Spanish, English, and Mayan languages with English subtitles) This film tells the story of a Guatemalan brother and sister who flee their country's civil war during the 1980s and shows the harrowing events crossing the U.S.-Mexican border as they immigrate to Los Angeles. Edited version for classroom use available from Teacher's Discovery, www.teachersdiscovery.com.