Friday, January 14, 2011

House of Fog and Sand & The Visitor: Illegal Immigration

Talking about immigration is a great source for class discussion. These great movies are perfect to foster genuine communication about the topic.

Read the definitions of legal and illegal immigration collected from the amazing site, a fantastic site for conversation classes, due to its impartial stand on controversial topics, which is great for class discussion. The whole activity was based on the information provided by the site.

"Illegal immigration (also referred to unauthorized or undocumented immigrants) refers to the migration of people across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destined country."

"Legal immigration Immigrants are persons admitted as legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States. The conditions for the admission of immigrants are much more stringent than non immigrants, and many fewer immigrants than non immigrants are admitted. Once admitted, however, immigrants are subject to few restrictions; for example, they may accept and change employment, and may apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, generally after 5 years. "

B. Now discuss the following questions with a partner. Justify all your answers.

1. What's the difference between illegal and legal immigration? Should there be any difference between them?

2. Is illegal immigration an economic burden to America? What about other countries?

3. Why is America one the countries with greatest concerns about immigration if it is a country of immigrants
in essence?

4. Is there prejudice against illegal or legal immigrants where you live? Give examples and explain why it happens.

5. Should illegal aliens be allowed to buy or rent homes in the U.S. (or where you live)?

6. Immigration laws are very strict. Does it discourage legal immigration? Why (not)?

7. Should illegal aliens, who are parents of U.S. citizen minors, be deported? Does it happen where you live?

8. Should Cubans who are intercepted at sea while trying to reach the United States be sent back to Cuba? Why?

9. When parents are deported, their U.S. born children have two 'choices' -- leave America with their parents or stay in foster care to continue availing of educational opportunities here. Are they fair choices? How is it where you live?

10. Are illegal immigrants criminals? Should they be treated as such?

11. Should immigration laws be more strict with people from the Middle East because of Americans' fear of terrorism? What about with Mexicans, because of the borders that are too hard to control? Does it foster xenophobia?

12. Do you agree with the the signature of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along America's southern border, facilitating the job of the Border Patrol officers and restricting Mexicans illegal invasion?

C. Match the words with their definitions:

1. Deportation

2. Exclusion

3. Extradition

4. Exile

( ) the refusal by a governing authority to admit an alien.

( ) a civil enactment imposed on persons who are neither native-born nor naturalized citizens. Aliens who become public charges, commit crimes involving moral turpitude, or engage in subversive activities can be subjected to these proceedings.

( ) a prolonged absence from one's country, either voluntary or by direction of the sovereign.

( ) the removal of a criminal to the country from which he has fled to avoid criminal prosecution or prison.

Answer key: 2, 1, 4, 3

D. Watch the movie segment from the dramatic film House of Fog and Sand. Then discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene.

2. Where is the family from?

3. Why did they move to America?

4. What are the mother's fears?

5. What should happen to the couple?

6. And to the boy?

7. What's your opinion about the officer's behavior? Explain it.

E. Now watch the second segment. It is from the awarded movie The Visitor, which has a touching story.

1. Describe the scene.

2. Why was he arrested?

3. Where is he from?

4. What did he do wrong to get arrested? Was it a fair decision? Explain it.

5. Would the officer act differently if he were from an European country? What if he were Caucasian?

6. What should happen to him? And to his wife? And to his American friend, who is hosting him in his house?

7. How different/similar is the feeling of the immigrants in both segments?

8. How different/similar is the behavior of the officers in both segments?

9. Are the segments biased against Americans? Why (not)?




  1. Nice post. Thank you for the information. I think your blog contains useful information

  2. Really good post. An answer key for D and E would be great though.

  3. D and E have multiple possibilities for the answers. It depends on the students' point of view. I also believe it is important that teachers see the segment beforehand to see if it is appropriate for the audience and to check whether the sts can actually understand and provide the answers for twe segment. That's why answers are not provided here.