The Seven Educating for American Democracy Themes

The Educating for American Democracy Roadmap identifies seven themes. Each of them overlaps with the ways that migration has shaped and reshaped American democracy throughout our history.

Civic Participation

Civil and CivicThe individual and collective actions migrants have made in both the past and the present highlight the ways people can use the levers of power in our political and social systems to create a more inclusive, sustainable democracy. Examples range from political organizing, social and community programs to the formation of labor coalitions and coalition building within and across communities. 

Changing Landscapes

Migration and peoples’ relationship to a place and landscape are inextricable. Indeed, humans’ relationship to the land often motivates and shapes migration, from climate change to adaption to a new land. At the same time, the desire for land and the physical properties of a place are at the root of the European colonization of North America, whether it was the quest for gold, timber, or new opportunities for trade. Central to this story is the forced migration and enslavement of African’s in American as well as the violent removal and displacement of Indigenous communities who were driven from their ancestral homelands in order to make way for settlers, many of them immigrants or the children of immigrants. 

We the People

Migration is a throughline of the American story. The arrivals of newcomers have shaped and reshaped our understanding of we the people throughout our history. Over time, newcomers from across international borders or within the United States breathe new life and new energy in the communities they settle. Simultaneously, skepticism and prejudice directed at recent arrivals are predictable and follow recognizable patterns from one group to the next.

A New Government and a New Constitution

The migrants have tested and extended the meaning, limits, and extent of the rights and responsibilities that are associated and articulated with our founding documents and government. For example, Wong Kim Ark v. the United States guaranteed birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants born in the United States.

Institutional & Social Transformation – A Series of Refoundings?

The inclusion and exclusion of newcomers on institutional and social levels are central to the development of the United States. Examples include legal rights, civic demands from newcomers, segregation, immigration laws, as well as social integration, discrimination, and prejudice. 

A People in the World

Migration is often the face of globalization. Indeed, many migration stories are tied to U.S. geopolitical policy, including economic relationships, war, and international law. For centuries immigration and our immigration policies have been connected to foreign policy and U.S. global involvement, including the Bracero Program, exceptions made to immigration law during the Cold War, as well as our refugee programs. 

A People with Contemporary Debates & Possibilities

Debates about migration and the future of national identity are among the most urgent of the civic dilemmas facing the United States now and into the future. How we manage immigration policy, border control, integrate newcomers, and respond to the predictable anxieties that come with demographic change will test our commitment to E Pluribus Unum and what it means to live as a multiracial, multiethnic, and multireligious democracy. 

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