Resources on Migration

The following is a list of selected organizations, online media resources, books, documentaries, and lesson plans relating to migration in general as well as migration within Latin America and from Latin America to the United States.

Organizations

International Organization for Migration
An inter-governmental organization with 132 member states, IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people. The site has a wealth of information comprising statistics, background information, policy, and research.

Pew Hispanic Center
Founded in 2001, the Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization that seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation. The center does not take positions on policy issues. The Pew Hispanic Center conducts and commissions studies on a wide range of topics with the aim of presenting research that at once meets the most rigorous scientific standards and is accessible to the interested public. The center also regularly conducts public opinion surveys that aim to illuminate Latino views on a range of social matters and public policy issues.

Migration Policy Institute
An independent, nonprofit think tank that provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels. The site has research reports on topics such as U.S. immigration, European immigration, migration and development, and refugee protection. Migration Information Source, the institute’s online journal, has educator resources with profiles of a number of countries worldwide as well as data tables and graphs and feature stories on various migration topics.

American Immigration Council: Immigration 101

The American Immigration council provides Fact Sheets on birthright and citizenship, how the immigration system works, demographics, history of immigration, and elections.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The site for the U.S. government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. Its mission is to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of the immigration system.

Media Resources

History of International Migration
This site uses a chronological framework to address the causes of, consequences of, and reactions to migration movements in Europe, from pre-historic times through today.

Teaching Tolerance
Teaching Tolerance is a project from the Southern Poverty Law Center, with articles, classroom activities, teaching kits, and more. Two articles from the most recent publication deal specifically with immigration issues.
The Human Face of Immigration, Issue #19, Spring 2011
10 Myths About Immigration, Issue #39, Spring 2011

Immigration from Latin America and Caribbean
Part of Harvard University’s Teaching Global Studies site for grades 6-12 teachers, this site has learning goals, background information for teachers, discussion topics, project ideas, and additional resources.

Latin American Network Information Center: Immigration & Migration
Listing of regional, country, and international resources on immigration and migration.

Latin American Migration Project
A joint project between Princeton University and the Universidad de Guadalajara, LAMP has conducted survey research in 10 Latin American countries regarding international migration. Databases available for download with the information on the different countries.

America on the Move: Latino Stories
Part of the National Museum of American History, this site has links to the Smithsonian’s collection and features photos and information relating to Mexican identity, Caribbean Rafters, and the Bracero program.

Forced Migration Online: A world of information on human displacement
This site provides an extensive list of resources on forced migrants as part of the Refugee Studies Centre in the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford.

PBS: The New Americans
A documentary series that follows different subjects from their homelands to the United States, including Nigerian refugees, Dominican baseball players, and a Mexican laborer. The site has lesson plans for grades 7-12 to supplement the documentary series with a timeline, maps, quiz, and various exercises.

PBS: Destination America
A documentary series organized around some of the driving forces that cause immigration to the United States, such as economic opportunity, religious freedom, and artistic expression. The episodes include contemporary stories and historic portraits, and the site offers lesson plans based on five freedoms: freedom to worship, freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom to create.

Library of Congress: Immigration & Ethnic Heritage
Teacher-created, classroom-tested lesson plans using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Trace the immigrant experience and study contributions by immigrant Americans through historic film clips; images of Ellis Island, Angel Island, and immigrant groups; presentations, letters, and manuscripts.

Books - Elementary School

Linda Jacobs Altman – Amelia’s Road (1993) (Grades K-2)
A poignant yet gentle portrayal of the lives of migrant children. Constantly on the move, Amelia's family records events by crops not dates, carries with them only what will fit in the car, and are never anywhere long enough to feel at home. The girl longs for a place to stay, a place where she belongs. Teachers rarely bother to learn her name, so when Mrs. Ramos does so, it is special. For the first time in her life, Amelia has a home place.

Jorge Argueta – A Movie in my Pillow/Una Película en mi Almohada (2001) (Grades K-3)
In poetry and picture, the reader is gently moved into the experiences of a child in the Salvadoran community of San Francisco. The pain of flight from a beloved country rift with civil war is poignantly conveyed. Yet with equal resonance, we hear the optimism and joy of a family that is finally reunited.

Eve Bunting – Going Home (1996) (Grades K-3)
Although a Mexican family comes to the United States to work as farm laborers so that their children will have opportunities, the parents still consider Mexico their home. The uniquely styled illustrations combine brilliant color with Mexican artifacts and magically real movement. The children begin to recognize not only their parents’ sacrifice, but the bonds that connect an extended family to each other and to place.  

Juan Felipe Herrera – Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas (1995) (Grades 3-5)
The author recalls his childhood in the mountains and valleys of California with his farmworker parents who inspired him with poetry and song. Through the poetics of memories and imagery, the story powerfully evokes good things remembered in migrant childhood. Engaging illustrations echo of magical realism, and a strong sense of family and community suffuses the story.

Francisco Jiménez – La Mariposa (1998) (Grades 3-7)
Francisco, the son of migrant workers, has difficulty adjusting to a new school because he doesn't speak or understand English and, to make matters worse, the class bully seems to have it in for him. Simón Silva's use of orange and black in his paintings underscores the author's subtle use of a monarch butterfly to symbolize Francisco's metamorphosis. Adapted from a chapter in Jiménez's The Circuit, winner of the 1997 Américas Award.

Carmen Lomas Garza – In my Family/En mi Familia (1996) (Grades K-2)
In this bilingual picture book celebrating Mexican American culture, Lomas Garza shares memories of growing up in her hometown of Kingsville, Texas, near the Mexican border. Her paintings of children and adults playing and working together as they prepare food, celebrate life events, and mend ills enable readers to understand constancy and change among family and friends.

Pam Muñoz Ryan – Esperanza Rising (2000) (Grades 4-8)
Twelve-year-old Esperanza leads a privileged life as the only child in a prominent family living in Mexico in the 1930s. But when her father dies, she experiences a drastic change of fortune, and she and her mother must eke out a living by going north to California as migrant workers. More than a mere riches-to-rags story, Pam Muñoz Ryan skillfully weaves history and social issues into a compelling story based on the author’s grandmother’s childhood.

Books - Middle School

Lori Carlson (Editor) – Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing up Latino in the United States (1994) (Grades 6-8)
Growing up Latino in America means speaking two languages, living two lives, learning the rules of two cultures. This book celebrates the tones, rhythms, sounds, and experiences of that double life.

Sandra Cisneros – The House on Mango Street (1984) (Grades 6-8)
Step inside a Latin American ghetto in Chicago and receive a valuable education in the serious problems faced by its inhabitants—most especially young women—and how they handle them.

Francisco Jiménez – Breaking Through (2001) (Grades 6-8)
A welcomed sequel to his award winning novel The Circuit (1997), the autobiographical journey of the son in a family of migrant farmworkers continues. Readers come to learn that Panchito, deported to Mexico when it seemed that his hardworking family was finally on the road to some financial solvency, makes it back to the U.S. with his documentation in order. In the convincing voice of a young adolescent, we hear the details of his life in California in the early sixties. 

Francisco Jiménez – The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1997) (Grades 6-8)
The dream of this family from rural Jalisco, Mexico, is to go north, cross la frontera, and leave poverty behind. In California, they join "the circuit" of migrant workers following the crops to be picked: strawberries, cotton, carrots. The author poignantly weaves the family’s customs, beliefs, and hopes with the cruel reality of never-ending migrant labor camps.

Judith Ortiz Cofer – Call Me Maria: A Novel in Letters, Poems and Prose (2004) (Grades 6-8)
Maria is a girl caught between two worlds: Puerto Rico, where she was born, and New York, where she now lives in a basement apartment in the barrio. While her mother remains on the island, Maria lives with her father, the super of their building. As she struggles to lose her island accent, Maria does her best to find her place within the unfamiliar culture of the barrio. Finally, with the Spanglish of the barrio people ringing in her ears, she finds the poet within herself.

Frances Temple – Tonight by Sea (1995) (Grades 6-9)
As governmental brutality and poverty become unbearable, Paulie joins with others in her small Haitian village to help her uncle secretly build a boat they will use to escape to the United States. The story, told from Paulie’s point of view, sensitively weaves political and economic issues into the cultural fabric of the characters. Beyond the poverty, she shows the strength and community that media images often fail to capture.

Books - High School

Julia Alvarez – How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents (1991) (Grades 9-12)
The author relates her wonderful bildungsroman backwards, relaying the haunting story of four sisters who fled the Dominican Republic and eventually forged lives for themselves in America.

T.C. Boyle – The Tortilla Curtain (1995) (Grades 9-12)
T.C. Boyle unapologetically juxtaposes the privilege afforded to white suburbanites in Los Angeles and the tragic reality for many illegal Mexican immigrants.

Marina Budhos – Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers (1999) (Grades 9-12)
For two-and-a-half years, Budhos interviewed immigrant teenagers from around the country. The resulting book contains 14 in-depth profiles of older teens, most accompanied by a photograph, and six shorter pieces, told solely in the immigrants' own words. Six of the interviewees are from Asia; the rest are from Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. These moving accounts tell of the young people's changing relationships within their own families and ethnic communities, as well as their struggles and adjustments with peer groups at school and individuals in the neighborhoods.

Edwidge Danticat – Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) (Grades 10-12)
Starting at age 12 and moving up to adulthood, Haitian immigrant Sophie Caco faces plenty of hurdles regarding her race, gender, and language after moving to New York.

Junot Diaz – Drown (1996) (Grades 9-12)
Dominican American writer Junot Díaz has spun the heartbreak and loneliness of the immigrant experience into literary gold with memorable stories of marginalized outsiders caught between two cultures.

Junot Diaz – The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) (Grades 9-12)
This Pulitzer-winning masterpiece focuses on the children of a fiery, passionate woman who fled from Rafael Trujillo's regime, though it frequently interweaves her story with their New Jersey lives. A family curse plays heavily into their collective experiences as well.

Cristina Garcia – Dreaming in Cuban (1992) (Grades 11-12)
With twisting chronology and raw openness, Cristina Garcia explores several generations of Cubans and Cuban Americans during some of the most volatile moments of the country's history.

Oscar Hijuelos – The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1990) (Grades 11-12)
In 1949—when the dance rage is the mambo—two young Cuban musicians, recent immigrants, make their way up to the grand stage of New York. The Castillo brothers, workers by day, become night stars of the dance halls, where their orchestra plays the lush, sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the tile of Mambo Kings. Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning portrait of the Castillo brothers, their families, their fellow musicians and lovers, their triumphs and tragedies, brings to life the sights and sounds of an era in music and an unsung moment in American life.

Alejandro Morales – The Brick People (1988) (Grades 9-12)
In his first English work, Mexican writer Morales eloquently fuses the fantastic and the factual as he traces the growth of early California from 1892 to the late 1940s. Within this broad scope, the book intimately focuses on the families behind the establishment and success of the booming Simons Brickyard, the rich American brothers Joseph and Walter Simons, and the hundreds of Mexican immigrants who have fled a tyrannical regime and feudal hacienda system.

Judith Ortiz Cofer – The Line of the Sun (1989) (Grades 11-12)
A niece recounts the life and times of the reckless Guzman, whose involvement with an older, spiritualist woman incites a fair amount of scorn within their Puerto Rican neighborhood.

Judith Ortiz Cofer – An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1995) (Grades 9-12)
Twelve interconnected stories portray young people within a Puerto Rican neighborhood in New Jersey as they deal with the conflicts, ambiguities, and contradictions of living in two cultures. The stories, written with sensitivity and imagination (not to mention humor), cumulatively build and strengthen the overall narrative of life in the barrio.

Esmeralda Santiago – When I was Puerto Rican (1994) (Grades 9-12)
A beautifully recounted memoir, When I was Puerto Rican recounts the author's burning desire to escape her native land in order to live with her grandmother in America—and all the expected challenges that unfold along the way.

Documentaries

The Other Side of Immigration
Based on over 700 interviews, The Other Side of Immigration asks why so many Mexicans leave home to work in the United States and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind. Through an approach that is both subtle and thought provoking, the film challenges audiences to imagine more creative and effective immigration policies.

El Inmigrante
El Inmigrante is a documentary film that examines the Mexican and American border crisis by telling the story of Eusebio de Haro, a young Mexican migrant who was shot and killed during one of his journeys north. El Inmigrante examines the perspectives of a diverse cast of players, including the de Haro family, the Texas community where Eusebio was shot, members of vigilante border militias in Arizona, the horseback border patrol in El Paso, and migrants en route to the United States.

Mi Vida Dentro
Rosa is a Mexican woman who, in 1999, at the age of 17, migrated illegally to Austin, Texas. In January of 2003, she was arrested on suspicion of murder. Rosa’s imprisonment in a foreign country, the judicial process, the verdict, the separation from her family, and her powerlessness make Mi vida dentro a true and revealing look into the life of Mexican immigrants in the United States.

New Children/New York
An intimate portrait of the struggles and perseverance of young immigrants coming of age in a rarely seen New York City. Set in a community workshop in Bushwick, a Latino immigrant and low-income neighborhood of Brooklyn, the documentary follows three young people who are studying filmmaking. Their gripping, self-exploratory films—excerpted throughout the documentary and each exhibiting a distinct voice and style—reveal the confidential perceptions of these youngsters who dramatically straddle the opposing cultures of the U.S. and their homelands.

Shopping to Belong
Shopping to Belong is a documentary about the relationship between consumerism and the sense of belonging and citizenship among Latino immigrants. This documentary aims to explore the hypothesis that immigrants use shopping as a way to feel part of this country, given that it is one of the main cultural activities in the United States. This documentary shows this process through interviews with first-generation immigrants who come from various parts of Latin America; they all have different immigration histories and have lived here from only a few months to as long as 25 years.

Crossing Arizona
Crossing Arizona examines the crisis through the eyes of those directly affected by it: frustrated ranchers, humanitarian groups, political activists, farmers, and the Minutemen, an armed citizen patrol group. As up-to-date as the nightly news, but far more in-depth, Crossing Arizona reveals the surprising political stances people take when immigration and border policy fails everyone.

Wetback: Undocumented Documentary
Wetback, a quietly commanding documentary, follows in the footsteps of immigrants traveling from Nicaragua to the United States. On their journeys, they encounter gangs and vigilantes, as well as border patrol. But these immigrants navigate real-life nightmares with uncanny calm, grace, even humor.

De Nadie
De Nadie shows how impoverished Central Americans put their last money, dignity, health, and life on the line. Mexican filmmaker Tin Dirdamal follows a number of migrants in a South-Mexican shelter, from where they hitch illegal rides on freight trains to the northern border. Apart from the Mexican immigration service and police, the migrants are threatened by the security service of railroad companies, the criminal Mara Salvatrucha gang, and the train itself.

The 800 Mile Wall
The 800 Mile Wall highlights the construction of the new border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S. Since border walls have been built, well over 5,000 migrant bodies have been recovered in U.S. deserts, mountains, and canals. Some unofficial reports put the death toll as high as 10,000 men, women, and children. This powerful 90-minute film is an unflinching look at a U.S. border strategy that many believe has caused the death of thousands of migrants and violates fundamental human rights.

Papers
Papers is the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status. 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without "papers." Currently, there is no path to citizenship for these young people. Graham Street Productions produced this film in association with El Grupo Juvenil. These youth producers were actively involved in all aspects of the production, working in collaboration with the youth who want to tell their stories.

Which Way Home
Each year, thousands of Latin American migrants travel hundreds of miles to the United States, with many making their way on the tops of freight trains. Roughly five percent of those traveling alone are children. As the United States continues to debate immigration reform, the documentary Which Way Home looks at the issue through the eyes of children who face the harrowing journey with enormous courage and resourcefulness.

Letters from the Other Side
Letters from the Other Side interweaves video letters carried across the U.S.-Mexico border with the intimate stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. By focusing on a side of the immigration story rarely told by the media or touched upon in our national debate, Letters paints a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics, communities dying at the hands of globalization, and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.

The Sixth Section
The Sixth Section is a groundbreaking documentary that depicts the transnational organizing of a community of Mexican immigrants in New York. The men profiled in the film form an organization called ‘Grupo Unión,’ which is devoted to raising money in the United States to rebuild the Mexican town that they’ve left behind. Grupo Unión is one of at least a thousand "hometown associations" formed by Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Lesson plans

Immigration to the United States: Activities for Elementary School Classrooms
This curriculum unit for elementary school contains a lesson for each grade from K-5 to address concepts like why people move, the immigrant experience in the U.S., group migration, and U.S. immigration law.

Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute: Immigration and American Life
The 10 curriculum units in this volume contain four elements: objectives, teaching strategies, sample lessons, and classroom activities, and lists of resources for teachers and students.

Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute: Remaking America: Contemporary U.S. Immigration
The 11 curriculum units in this volume contain four elements: objectives, teaching strategies, sample lessons, and classroom activities, and lists of resources for teachers and students.

Why Do People Move? Migration from Latin America
This curriculum unit for middle and high school looks to give students tools to look beyond immediate circumstances and gain insights into the historical process of migration and promote an understanding of the reasons people have for leaving their community or country by presenting studies of six countries in Latin America: Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Cuba.

Understanding Migration: Curriculum Resources for the Classroom
This curriculum unit put together by the Hemispheres program of the University of Texas at Austin contains student activities and lesson plans about international migration from/within Brazil, India, Nicaragua, Russia, and more.

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