Lesson Plan: “They’ll Kill Me If I’m Sent Back”

A step-by-step guide to teaching this article in your classroom


Common Core: lRH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.2, SL.6-8.5, W.6-8.3, W.6-8.7, W.6-8.8, W.6-8.9, WHST.6-8.1


• Include this article in a discussion about recent asylum topics in the news.

• Incorporate this piece in a unit on immigration in U.S. history.

• Pair this article with a lesson on people, cultures, and daily life in Central America.

• Reinforce geography skills with our map-reading activity.

Before Reading


Pose these questions to the class: Why might some people want to come to the United States even if it means risking their lives to get here? Why might they assume life will be better in the U.S. even if they enter the country illegally? How might they feel as they cross the U.S.- Mexico border?


Review the definitions of some of the challenging vocabulary words in the article, including asylum, cartel, corrupt, justice, migrant, surge, and venture.

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Read & Analyze


Have students read the article on their own, writing down any comments or questions.


Have students write their answers to each question, or use these prompts to guide a discussion.

  • CENTRAL IDEA: What does it mean to seek asylum in the United States?
    (When a person from another country seeks asylum, he or she asks the U.S. government for permission to live here legally because his or her life is in danger at home.)

  • SUMMARIZING: Why did Ginger leave Honduras?
    (Ginger was kidnapped by a gang or a drug cartel. After she escaped, the local police would not help her. Ginger’s grandfather decided she needed to flee to the U.S. for her own safety and find her mother, who was already living in the country.)

  • CLOSE READING: Who helped Ginger reach the United States?
    (Her grandfather hired a human smuggler, commonly known as a coyote, to accompany her on the trip.)

  • CAUSE AND EFFECT: What will happen if Ginger’s request for asylum is approved? What will happen if it is denied?
    (If her request is approved, she will likely be allowed to continue living in the United States. If it is denied, she will likely be sent back to Honduras.)

  • EXPLICIT INFORMATION: How did the number of asylum claims in the U.S. change from 2017 to 2018?
    (The number of claims nearly doubled.)

  • ANALYZING DETAILS: According to “Understanding the Asylum Crisis,” what is a reason for granting asylum? What is a reason against it?
    (Reason for granting asylum: Many people seeking asylum face severe poverty and violence from gangs and drug cartels in their home countries. Reason against granting asylum: Some people say that many asylum seekers do not qualify for protection, but because they know the right things to say, they’re allowed to stay in the country— sometimes for years—while their cases are processed.)

  • COMPARE AND CONTRAST: What is the difference between a migrant and an immigrant?
    (A migrant is someone who moves from one country to another for any reason. The move could be temporary or permanent. An immigrant is someone who comes to live in a new country with the intention of staying permanently.)

  • CITING TEXTUAL EVIDENCE: What steps did Jacob Castillo and his friends take to help get an Afghan teen asylum seeker out of a detention facility?
    (They wrote a letter to their U.S. senator and collected signatures on a petition. They also raised $35,000 for the teen’s bail.)

Extend & Assess

Find out how well students understood the article by assigning the skills sheet Know the News—“They’ll Kill Me If I’m Sent Back”

Encourage students to think more deeply about the topic by assigning the skills sheet Analyzing a Political Cartoon: Coming to America. Discuss the responses as a class. Ask: How might people with opposing viewpoints react differently to this cartoon?

Reinforce social-emotional learning by having students write a persuasive essay in response to the following prompt: Should we help people in other parts of the world who are suffering? Encourage students to use facts from the article to support their argument.

Have students choose a country in Central America to research, using the Atlas and Almanac at junior.scholastic.com, encyclopedias, and other reputable sources. Then have them create a poster describing the country, including details about its population, land, climate, government, and current challenges.

As a class, watch the video “Immigration Detention at Age 14”. Ask: What is the main idea? How do you know?


Lower Level Help students locate Honduras on a map and trace a route Ginger may have taken to the U.S. Ask: What might have been the hardest part of the trek?

Higher Level Have students write to a local or national lawmaker about the asylum issue, using the skills sheet Argument Writing: Make Your Voice Heard from the archives at junior.scholastic.com.

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