I made The Other Side of Immigration while doing research in rural Mexico for my Ph.D. in political science. This film initially grew out of my desire to create a dynamic teaching tool for my students. The film has since won a 2011 Notable Video Award from The American Library Association and is widely used in middle school, high school, and college classrooms around the country. [Institutions: please order the film here.]
Educators may want to assign some questions and articles when showing the film in class.
- Señorita Melissa Williams, a Spanish Teacher at Jabish Brook Middle School in Belchertown, MA, was kind enough to share some fantastic discussion questions that she wrote and assigned when she showed The Other Side of Immigration to her 8th graders. See below or download the Word file directly from Melissa’s website.
- You can also find lots of immigration-related resources and articles on my blog under the “For Educators” section. Feel free to assign these articles along with the film or use them to start discussions around immigration in your classroom.
Discussion Questions courtesy of Melissa Williams
- What is an immigrant?
- Why has immigration played an important role in the development of the United States as a nation? (Hint: Think about your own family history)
- Why do people immigrate to the United States / Why do they leave their country?
- When you hear the word “immigrant” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
- Why is immigration a hot topic now-especially politically & economically?
- Do you think the United States should deport all illegal immigrants? Why/Why not?
- Do you think the United States should build a wall along the entire border it shares with Mexico?
- Why do people in the United States have a negative opinion about immigration?
- Why is it so difficult for farmers to survive now in rural Mexico?
- There was a discussion at the beginning of the film about the myth, or idea of how great life is for migrant workers, because some workers return with nice clothes and trucks. If you were living in rural Mexico, would you want to be a migrant worker? Would you want to leave and go work in the United States? Explain in depth-using examples from the film – why or why not.
- What role does the government play in maintaining the poor conditions/situation in rural Mexico? Does the government do anything admirable or beneficial for these people?
- Why are migrant workers and their earnings so important too Mexico? Not just to their families, but to the economy?
- When men leave to go work in the United States, explain some of the effects this has on their wives & children.
- The end of the film features segments from migrant workers, former migrant workers, government officials and family members of migrants. They present several different ideas that could help the situation of these migrant workers and the problem of illegal immigration. Discuss at least two of these ideas, and whether you think they’d be effective or not.
- What did you learn from this film? Did it change your perspective at all on illegal immigration? Explain.