The power of movies as educational tools cannot be overstated. In particular, they can offer enlightening perspectives on complex issues like immigration. So, let’s get into ten thought-provoking movies that can help high school students understand the realities of immigration. Each movie selected provides a unique lens into the immigrant experience, fostering empathy, understanding, and sparking constructive conversations. Let’s start K12MovieGuides’s list of 10 Immigration Movies for High School Students below:
Which Way Home (Not Rated – 2009)
In Which Way Home, we follow unaccompanied child migrants journeying through Mexico en route to the U.S. on a freight train. Students can grasp the hazards and hardships faced by these children seeking a better life. The film emphasizes the importance of a safe home and family.
Goal the Dream Begins (PG-13 – 2005)
Goal the Dream Begins tells the story of Santiago Munez, an undocumented immigrant in LA with a passion for soccer. Through Santiago’s struggle, students can appreciate the intricate link between immigration and dreams of success. The movie shows how resilience and talent can transcend obstacles.
Caesar Chavez (PG-13 – 2014)
A historic figure, Caesar Chavez, leads a movement for labor rights. This movie exposes students to the struggles immigrants often face in securing fair working conditions. It showcases the power of non-violent protests in bringing about social change.
Dolores (Not Rated – 2017)
Dolores explores the life of Dolores Huerta, a tireless labor activist. It emphasizes the roles immigrants have played in advocating for workers’ rights. Huerta’s story teaches students about courage and the impact one individual can make.
Spare Parts (PG-13 – 2015)
Spare Parts chronicles the journey of four Hispanic high school students who form a robotics club under the leadership of their school’s newest teacher. Despite having no experience, they aim to compete against the nation’s reigning robotics champion, MIT. This movie explores themes of identity, perseverance, and the pursuit of the American dream.
Selena (PG – 1997)
Selena depicts the life of Selena Quintanilla, a Mexican-American singer who climbed her way to stardom. Her story reveals the duality of the immigrant experience—embracing a new culture while preserving one’s heritage.
West Side Story (PG-13 – 2021) and West Side Story (Not Rated – 1961)
Through two adaptations of West Side Story, students can examine the immigrant experience across time. The tension between local gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, underlines the challenges immigrants face in their quest for acceptance and social integration.
The Joy Luck Club (R – 1993)
The Joy Luck Club explores the lives of four Chinese-American women and their immigrant mothers. It’s a deep dive into generational divides and the clash of cultures, enriching students’ understanding of the multifaceted immigrant experience.
A Better Life (PG-13 – 2011)
A Better Life showcases a gardener in East L.A. who struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents while trying to give his son the opportunities he never had. It is a compelling portrayal of the sacrifices immigrants make for their children’s futures.
These 10 Immigration Movies for High School Students offer unique, engaging ways for students to learn about immigration. They not only educate but also foster empathy and spark meaningful discussions. Happy viewing!
K12MovieGuides has a bundle that includes all the movies listed in this post. Click below to check out : )