Immigration Study Guide: Week Three
Faith Development, Immigration

Economic Pressures Around (Im)migration


  • To “experience” the standard of living disparities between the U.S. and Mexico (and by extension, other parts of the world)
  • To see the working conditions under which migrant workers toil

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the economic forces that drive immigration
  • Understand the deleterious effects forced low-wage labor has on the working conditions of everyone who works in the U.S., both with documentation and without

Handouts for Week Three

  1. 3.1 Shop Til You Drop on a Mexican Wage (PDF)
  2. 3.2 NAFTA and Immigration (PDF)
  3. 3.3 Effects on Worker Conditions (PDF)
  4. 3.4 Stories of Farm workers (PDF)
  5. 3.5 Immigration Myths and Facts (PDF, 9 pages), from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)


5” Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

10” Check-in

15” Activity 1: Comparing Shopping Lists

25” Activity 2: “Focal Point: Standards of Living”

20” Activity 3: Cost Benefit Analysis

10” Debrief

5” Closing

Chalice Lighting and Opening Reading

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world

—Cesar Chavez, “Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle”


Participants are invited to share where they are spiritually/emotionally with respect to the class.

Actvity 1: Comparing Shopping Lists

Have participants break into small groups and compare their shopping spree results. What things jumped out at them? (Note: If the overall group is small, facilitators can just do the exercise with the overall group.) After 5-10”, report back to the larger group. In light of the shopping results and handout 3.2 on NAFTA’s effects on the Mexican economy, have people’s thoughts changed about Mexican immigration to the U.S. If so, why? If not, why not?

Activity 2: “Focal Point: Standards of Living”

This activity depends on the ability to show a 23 minute internet video during the session (Note: make sure to hit the full screen button in the lower right hand corner of the video for easier viewing.), which means internet access and a laptop or other way to display the video. (Best to set this up before the session starts.)

If viewing the video during the session is not possible, and we recognize that this will be the case for many congregations, then facilitators are encouraged to lead a discussion around handout 3.4

Activity 3: Cost Benefit Analysis

According to handout 3.3 from Interfaith Worker Justice, the presence of large numbers of undocumented immigrant workers hurts all workers, but it is fact that their undocumented status makes them vulnerable to exploitation that is the problem, not their presence itself. According to handout 3.5 from the ACLU, immigration has a positive net effect on the federal level but state and local levels do feel a financial impact, since they are the ones who provide health care and education. With the group, make a list of pluses and minuses regarding immigration, based on the readings. What other benefits and strains can people come up with that are not part of the readings? How do people feel about it overall?


Participants are invited to share anything that strongly moved them during the session.

Closing Reading and Extinguishing the Chalice

Bless the hands of the people of the earth,
The hands that plant the seed,
The hands that bind the harvest,
The hands that carry the burden of life.

Soften the hands of the oppressor and
Strengthen the hands of the oppressed.

Bless the hands of the workers,
Bless the hands of those in power above them
That the measure they deal will be tempered
With justice and compassion. Amen.

—Farm Worker Blessing Prayer

Homework for Week Four

4.1 Militarization of the Border (PDF, 8 pages)
4.2 What Happens When a Town Implodes? (PDF)—the Postville Raid
4.3 Housing Immigration Detainees in a Prison (PDF, 5 pages)
4.4 Hazing Arizona (PDF)—Sheriff Arpaio and the 287(g) agreement
4.5 Mahmod’s Story—A Family Torn Apart (PDF, 9 pages)

Further Study

To explore the topics covered in this session, as well as related topics, see the resources listed in section II.C (PDF, 11 pages) of the study guide.

For more information contact

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