April 11, 2021

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Lesson of the Day: ‘On Mexico’s Border With U.S., Desperation as Migrant Traffic Piles Up’

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Featured Article: “Children Are Sleeping on Mats in Overcrowded Border Facilities” by Miriam Jordan, Simon Romero and Zolan Kanno-Youngs

In February, over 9,000 minors arrived along the border without parents, which is a nearly threefold increase from the same time last year. The Biden administration is trying to find space to accommodate the children, as reports of unsafe and unhealthy living conditions are on the rise.

In this lesson, you will learn about the current situation at the border and then reflect on how you think the Biden administration and local governments should approach the crisis.

Look at the image below (or view it in a larger size) and respond to the questions below from our What’s Going On In This Picture? feature:

  • What more can you find?

After you finish reading the article, you will find the reveal at the bottom of this post with more information about the photograph.

What are two things you learned from the video? What is one question you still have?

Read the featured article before answering the questions below. (As an alternative, you can listen to the Daily episode “Biden’s Dilemmas, Part 2: Children at the Border” that includes an interview with Zolan Kanno-Youngs, one of the authors of the featured article. Here is an audio transcript.)

1. How would you describe the current crisis at the border?

2. What short-term solutions are the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services proposing? What do you think of these solutions? Are they a good starting point, or do you think those departments should act more aggressively? If so, what should they be doing?

3. What is President Biden’s stance on unaccompanied minors who cross the border fleeing violence and poverty in Central America? What are some the challenges that the administration is facing because of this policy?

4. What did children in the Donna facility describe to lawyers about their living conditions? What is your reaction to reading about their experiences? Are you surprised? Scared? Worried? Angry?

5. What agencies and offices is the Biden administration mobilizing to try to address the crisis? Do you think these actions are sufficient? What else would you urge the Biden administration to do?

6. The article ends with the perspectives of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas; Marisa Limón Garza, the deputy director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso; and Linda Rivas, the executive director at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso. Which of their perspectives do you agree with the most? Why?

Reflect in writing or by creating a one-pager with a mix of written and visual reactions to the article. If you are choosing to write your response, use these questions as a guide:

  • Complete this sentence: The current crisis makes me feel …

  • What was one solution presented in the article that you think is effective, or could be adjusted to be more effective? Explain what seems to work about it. How could it be improved, if at all?

  • What is one thing that you think other young people should understand about this crisis?

  • What would you ask President Biden to do to address this situation? What would you ask a state or local government official to do?

  • How does this situation affect you and your family, as well as your neighbors and wider community? What responsibility, if any, do you have to take action to confront this crisis? How might you, and your peers, take action?

If creating a one-pager, you can start with a blank sheet of paper, or you can begin by using this template. Then, consider these prompts:

  • Choose one quote from the article that you found impactful.

  • Choose one word and one phrase that was powerful. You can use these words as a border along the outside of your page, or use them strategically in the middle of the page by exploring different sizes and fonts.

  • Choose one image that represents a theme from the article.

  • Chose one symbol that represents how you feel about the content of the article.

You can add to your one-pager by posing a question that viewers should consider or by including any other details that reflect your experience of the article and the situation.

Photograph Reveal: A group of mothers and children waiting to be tested for the coronavirus after being released by Customs and Border Protection in Brownsville. Related Article.


About Lesson of the Day

Find all our Lessons of the Day in this column.
Teachers, watch our on-demand webinar to learn how to use this feature in your classroom.

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