Lesson Plan

How the U.S. Has Treated Wartime Refugees


This ten-minute video examines what obligation countries have to refugees. It’s a question as important today as it was in 1975, when the United States evacuated 130,000 South Vietnamese allies during the fall of Saigon and brought them to this country to start new lives. Today, as Afghan and Ukrainian migrants settle in the United States, students will explore whether refugee resettlement is better now than it was for the Vietnamese 50 years ago, and what is owed to people fleeing war, destruction and despair across the globe.


Students will:

  • Examine U.S. immigration policy at several points in history.
  • Analyze the change in immigration policy over time, and evaluate the effects of policy changes.
  • Compare and contrast patterns of immigration and make generalizations from available data.
  • Formulate an argument about U.S. immigration policy.
  • Social Studies
  • U.S. History
  • Civics & Government
  • Geography
  • English Language Arts
  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Migration and Immigration
  • The Vietnam War
  • 1970s America
  • 21st Century
  • Communism
  • Gerald R. Ford
  • World History
  • Asian American History
For Teachers

Essential Questions

  • How has U.S. immigration policy changed over time?
  • What factors have led to policy changes? What effects have come from those changes?
  • What obligation does the United States have to refugees fleeing war-torn countries?

Additional Resources

Transcript for "How the U.S. Has Treated Wartime Refugees"Retro Report 
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965U.S. House of Representatives: History, Art & Archive 
Refugee Act of 1980 ArticleNational Archives 
Foreign-Born Population: A Nation of Overlapping Diasporas - Interactive MapAmerican Panorama 

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.

Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.

Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.

Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.

Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.

Analyze the reciprocal nature of how historical events and the spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of human population.

Evaluate the consequences of human-made and natural catastrophes on global trade, politics, and human migration.

Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.

Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.

Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.

Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.

Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.

Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com