Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


What Is An American?

By Shawn Healy
The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum hosted a teacher seminar last Friday addressing the issue of immigration from a variety of angles. A representative of the Dept. of Homeland Security, Robert Blackwood, spoke about the process of becoming a citizen, and Sam Osaki of the Japanese-American Citizen's League (JACL) recounted his internment experience during WWII. I highlighted the current political dynamics surrounding the issue, using a lesson plan we just developed as my guide.

The attached lesson provides a historic timeline of immigration with a backdrop of Grant Park in Chicago and a massive immigration rally staged there last May. It also includes four primary documents: synopses of the 1924 Comprehensive Immigration Law and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, a op-ed piece written by Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and a summary of the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform proposal set to be considered by Congress this spring and summer. The lesson itself is a cooperative learning activity presented in seminar format where group members read one of the aforementioned articles, share these with the group, and begin discussing the specific elements active in the current immigration debate. Groups are ultimately asked to construct their own model policies.

We put our teacher attendees up to this task and a plethora of workable policies emerged. Beyond the guest worker, amnesty, and border security measures present in most congressional proposals, our group suggested the ongoing provision of human services to immigrants as they proceed down the path toward citizenship, the establishment of safety centers for illegal immigrants, steps to bolster foreign economies (poor conditions often spur emigration), and increased funding for cultural education.

These productive ideas and strong sentiments should be shared with our policymakers as they ponder monumental reform. We recommend just this in our ideas for follow-up activities tied to the lesson: a letter-writing campaign directed at Congress.

The issue is again bubbling to the surface with yesterday's shopping mall raid in the Chicago area and another march scheduled for May 1st. President Bush has placed his stake in the ground and urged congressional action on the issue this year, and both houses of Congress have obliged by scheduling hearings. There is no better lesson in democracy than the movement unfolding before our very eyes. What will you do to make your voice heard?

P.S. Should you desire a hard copy of the lesson, drop me a line at the following email address:


Post a Comment

<< Home


Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at