HL Case Studies: Borders

US-Mexico Border Wall

In this case study, we will analyze the function and symbolism of a border wall. We will learn about what’s in place already along the United States-Mexico border, what life in the borderlands is like and examine the issue of border security in the US.

Asylum Crisis at the US-Mexico Border

The number of people apprehended crossing the border from Mexico to the United States was higher in May 2019 than any other time since 2006. In previous years, most migrants who entered the United States from Mexico were single men, but during the summer of 2019, more than half of the migrants apprehended crossing the border were families and unaccompanied children. Most of these migrants fled violence in Central American countries and are asking for asylum in the United States. Thousands more asylum seekers are waiting in Mexico to cross into the United States at official border crossings.  - Source: Facing History and Ourselves

  • Why are so many Central Americans seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border?

  • How does the asylum process in the work?

  • How has the Trump administration responded to the crisis at the border?

These are the questions we will explore through some readings, videos, discussions and a role play. 


In October 2017, President Trump announced that he was ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA was passed by the Obama administration in 2012. The measure provided the ability to work and live in the US without fear of deportation for close to 800,000 undocumented youth who had been taken by the US by their parents. 

  • What are the impacts of Trump Repealing DACA?

  • How has civil society responded to the decision to repeal it?

These are the questions we will explore through a reading, video and a role play. 

The Kurds

On September 25th, 2017, "the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which governs the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, "held an independence referendum. Through the vote was non-binding, over 90% of Kurds voted in favor of independence. The referendum was very contentious. It was opposed by the Iraqi government and by many significant state and non-state actors including Turkey, Iran and the UN. But according to some analysts, the results now "give the Kurdish government more ground to demand a separate statehood in northern Iraq" (Aljazeera).

  • Who are the Kurds?

  • What are their aspirations?

  • How are events in the Middle East impacting them?

  • What is the likelihood of the Kurds gaining their own sovereign state?


These are the questions we will explore through a reading and the Council on Foreign Relations' interactive guide which examines the Kurds growing prominence in the Middle East. 



Mapping the Future of Countries: Parag Khanna

Many people think the lines on the map no longer matter, but Parag Khanna says they do. Using maps of the past and present, he explains the root causes of border conflicts worldwide and proposes simple yet cunning solutions for each.

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