The Unites States and its neighbor to the south, Mexico, have had very high tensions building up in the past years. Some say these tensions may have started during the U.S-Mexican War in 1846, while others contend these tensions predate the war. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that the tensions have been escalating.

Several causes for this have been the war on drugs, both countries’ efforts to reduce illegal immigration and trade deals that have treated either country unfairly. More recently, another contributor to building tensions has been the leaders of either country neglecting the issues or attempts made by prior leaders.

For example, the newly inaugurated President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has views that do not align with those of his predecessor. His views also clash with those of President Donald Trump; however, President Obrador recognizes that he will not get anywhere by attempting to employ the same tactics utilized by the President of the United States. To maintain amicable relations with the U.S, President Obrador has said he would treat Trump respectfully.1

The war on drugs has been in action since the 1970s when President Richard Nixon of the United States created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Mexico has also taken several steps in the direction of limiting and attempting to cease drug trafficking through the country. Even with the recent arrest and conviction of El Chapo, the drug war will still continue as Mexico and the U.S try to pursue other drug lords and smugglers. According to a New York Times rreporter interviewing an agent of the DEA, “(he) admitted to me that the policy of taking down kingpins didn’t stop the flow of drugs.”

Another central issue that causes tensions between the U.S and Mexico is illegal immigration. Both the U.S and Mexico have had to deal with this problem for several years now. Until recently, neither country tried to work together to combat the problem. The U.S has recently requested that Mexico keep the asylum seekers while their asylum request is being processed. Mexico finds thisto be problematic, according to The Washington Post, who stated in an article that “Mexico is not prepared to provide housing and other services for what could be thousands of migrants, according to officials and migrant advocates.”


Your SWAC leader will prompt you with questions concerning this idea: The U.S and Mexico have had rising tensions for years now. Would it be possible to deescalate these tensions? If so, how would you do it if you were the President of either country?

Express your thoughts and contribute to discussion with your SWAC peers! (Write your thoughts.)

Kahoot! Introductory Quiz

Kahoot! is an online Quiz platform. This small four-question quiz is to test the student’s prior knowledge of refugees and global migration, introducing them to the discussion to come. The quiz does not require the proctor to have a Kahoot! account in order to start. Students will use an electronic device in order to answer. The link is below; click START NOW and select Classic mode. After the Game PIN is generated, students will be able to join the session by accessing on their computer or mobile device. Begin the quiz once all students have joined! This activity should take no more than 10 minutes.

Kahoot Quiz:


Lesson Handout

Now is when the handouts should be passed out to students. This handout will cover an analysis of the tensions between the U.S. and Mexico. It is recommended that the handout be read aloud as a group instead of individually. Take some time after the document has been read to cover the material with the students and make sure that its been generally understood. Ask questions to students; get them to summarize what they’ve read and make sure that the students are engaged and understanding. The reading shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.


Video Resources

We have two video resources below that will present the current event portion of the handout, one focusing on the impact social media has on political change, the other on the Arab Spring. Following each link, we’ve included a description of the video and possible questions that you can ask students to see what they’ve taken away from watching the clips. Each video clip is between 2 and 5 minutes; coupled with questions this segment should take no more than 15 minutes.

What Could Happen if Trump Closes the Southern Border?


This five-minute video shows the potential outcomes and consequences if President Trump were to close the border completely. The video mentions the economy and American imports and exports and how all of the above would plummet, according to the video. This is just one issue the two countries are facing that divides them.

What Challenges Could the Newly Elected President of Mexico Face?


The video displays the challenges and outcomes of the new President of Mexico. These challenges could continue to divide the U.S and Mexico and their relations. This issue, on top of the continuing drug war and the immigration issue, revolve around the minds of each leader’s administration and their respective cabinets.



  • How should both countries deal with their tensions in a mutually beneficial way?
  • Would it be wise for either country to form a committee to regulate and discuss these tensions, or try to resolve them? Why or why not?

(This should take no more than 10 minutes – total estimated meeting time: no more than 1 hour.)


Anderson, Jon Lee. “In Mexico, López Obrador Takes Power—and the Difficult Dance with Trump Begins,” December 8, 2018. takes-powerand-a-leftist-stance-against-trump.

Grillo, Ioan. “Opinion | El Chapo’s Conviction Isn’t Enough.” The New York Times, February 12, 2019, sec. Opinion.

“While Washington Focuses on the Wall, Mexico Fears Its Own Border Crisis.” Washington Post. Accessed April 2, 2019. focuses-on-the-wall-mexico-fears-its-own-border-crisis/2018/12/27/cbb38854- 04b4-11e9-958c-0a601226ff6b_story.html.