“Each year, approximately 350,000 people attempt to be smuggled through the U.S.-Mexican border…this is one boy’s journey.” SMUGGLED is a new film that tells the story of a 9 year old boy and his mother, as they are smuggled into the US in an attempt to immigrate to a better life. Though it is based on real stories, it is actually fictional/narrative film and received 5 festival awards and 15 official selections in 2012. Here is the official trailer:
Viewers will go on an emotional journey, as Miguel and his mother ride hidden in a compartment below a tour bus, and subsequently Miguel ends up in a police station. The love between Miguel and his mom, and the challenges they are overcoming in order to make their journey to the US are both thought-provoking and heart-breaking. Though I allowed my 8 year olds to watch it, the intense scenes might be more appropriate for middle schoolers and high schoolers. Note that the film contains spoken Spanish (with subtitles) and English.
- What do you think motivated Miguel and his mom to try to come to the United States?
- Why would they choose the US as their destination?
- What are the most difficult challenges Miguel and his mom faced during their journey?
- Describe each of the characters in the film, using 5 adjectives per person.
- How was their experience similar and different to immigrants who arrived by ship to Ellis Island?
- What issues do you predict that will Miguel have to face in his new life in the US?
- Write a series of 3 journal entries for Miguel, from his perspective. How would you feel during each of the following scenes? What fears would you have? How would you cope?
- from the inside of the bus
- from the police station
- from his final destination
Additional Resources and Lesson Plans
PBS Teachers has an excellent collection immigration lessons for kids such as tracking immigration, discussing what motivates people to immigrate, origins of immigrants, and many more appropriate for grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. They also have an excellent series called “The New American,” which include lesson plans for grades 7-12 that you can download in pdf.
Scholastic Teachers also has a series of immigration lessons for kids in grades 3-5, and Discovery Education has a similar immigration lesson plan with discussion questions, resources and a wonderful list of young adult literature for students in grades 6-8.