Current Issues Lesson 6: Naturalized Citizens and the Presidency

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Time: One to two class periods.

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NOTE: It may be helpful to review the process for amending the Constitution with your students before doing this lesson. You can use the following lesson from CRF:

Do We Need a New Constitutional Convention?



Overview: Students will role play state senators from their home state. Imagine Congress has just passed a joint resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to run for president. The terms of the resolution are close to Senator Orrin Hatch’s proposal in 2004. The students have the task of deliberating the resolution, coming up with arguments for and against it, and deciding whether to support it. Students have the option of suggesting changes to the resolution.



· A class set of “The Path to Citizenship,” from the Educating About Immigration website.

· A class set of the article “Naturalized Citizens and the Presidency”

· A class set of Handout A

· A class set of Handout B


Step One. Focus Discussion: Distribute “The Path to Citizenship.” Ask students to review it and then hold a brief discussion by asking: Do you think the path to citizenship is too strict, not strict enough, or just right? Why or why not? (Accept all reasonable responses.)


Step Two. Have the students read “Naturalized Citizens and the Presidency” and answer the questions for discussion. They can read it in class or as homework. Check for understanding.


Step Three. Organize the class into small groups of three or five students each. Distribute Handouts A and B to each student. Each group must select a Chairperson to lead the deliberation and a Recorder to report back to class.


Step Four. Explain that Congress has just passed a joint resolution to amend the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to run for president. Tell the groups that each is a committee of state senators.


Review with students the instructions in the two handouts. Answer any questions that students may have. Give them time to complete their tasks.


Step Five. Once all the groups are done, have each Recorder report its group’s decisions to the class. Keep a tally of the decisions on the board.


Step Six. Debrief with the students. Did any group simply want to eliminate the 20-year period for citizenship? If so, why? For groups that decided on new terms, what made those groups think the new terms were fair? If Congress were to pass such a resolution as you see in this lesson, do you think the American people would support it? Would immigrant groups support it? Would you, as an individual, support it? Why or why not?


Additional Debriefing Questions: Was it difficult for the groups to deliberate? Why or why not? Could consensus be reached for new terms? If not, why not? In your opinion, what worked well in reaching decisions in your group?

Lesson Plan 1 Lesson Handouts 1
Lesson Plan 2
Lesson Handouts 2
Lesson Plan 3
Lesson Handouts 3
Lesson Plan 4
Lesson Handouts 4
Lesson Plan 5
Lesson Handouts 5