Episode 47: "Give Me Your Tired..." - Study Guide for College The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. But historian Maria Cristina Garcia says many of us have lots of misconceptions about earlier waves of newcomers.

Episode 47: "Give Me Your Tired..." - Study Guide for College

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In some ways, immigration to the United States has changed drastically; in other ways, we see history repeating itself.
Chad Riley/Getty Images

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Study Guide Questions

1. Shankar Vedantam describes the saying "we're a nation of immigrants" as a foundational American story. Christina Maria Garcia agrees and says that "immigrants and refugees are central to the American national mythology." Reflect on this idea. Why is being a "nation of immigrants" is so important to an American national identity? Does this myth leave anyone out? What purpose do "foundational stories" or "American national mythologies" serve? Why do you think they're so important?

2. Think of another example of a foundational American story. Reflect on why this story is so central to our conception of America. Is there anything problematic about it?

3. What tension/contradiction does Garcia say has always been part of the politics around immigration?

4. What does Garcia's research tell us about the idea that immigrants today are less likely or willing to assimilate than immigrants of previous eras?

5. What does Garcia's research tell us about the distinction between legal and illegal (or documented and undocumented) immigration?

 

Long Answer and Reflection Questions

6. Christina Maria Garcia says that "during periods of national emergency, immigrants become likely scapegoats." Offer an example (or counterexample) from current events. Describe your example and why it relates to Garcia's research. Do any other groups become scapegoats in these times? Reflect on why this might be.

7. Immigration has been in the news a lot lately. Find a piece about immigration (e.g. a speech, a news story, an op-ed, etc.). Reflect on this piece of media. Who made it? What story does it tell? Who is the audience? What does it communicate about immigrants/immigration? Do you see any common themes between it and the themes Garcia discussed? Be prepared to discuss all these questions in class.

8. Garcia also mentions political cartoons depicting Irish immigrants in a negative light. Find at least one political cartoon about Irish immigrants. Find two contemporary political cartoons about immigration or refugees: one pro-, one anti- immigration. Be prepared to discuss these cartoons. What differences do you see between them? What similarities? What common themes do you see across these sources of media?

 

Resources

Books by Maria Cristina Garcia