Rule of Law

A recently naturalized refugee holding an American flag. IRC/Andrew Oberstadt

By definition, refugees have a well-founded fear of persecution, often from government authorities or from other powerful social entities. As refugees prepare to come to the United States, many are unfamiliar with the U.S. laws that protect their rights. Once they arrive, they may need encouragement to engage with their new government with trust. This lesson plan is designed to introduce refugees to some fundamental concepts related to the rule of law and due process in the United States context. It is designed to instill confidence in their safety and build a sense of civic pride and responsibility.

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  • In the United States, rule of law is guided by the United States Constitution which provides the overarching framework for federal, state, and local laws.
  • In the United States, rule of law is designed to treat everyone, including refugees, equally; this includes the right to due process of law (due process).
  • Due process is the right to legal fairness, and in the United States these rights are protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
  • Persons in the United States (including refugees) are also responsible for upholding rule of law, including knowing the laws.

After this lesson, refugees will be able to:

  • Understand that the United States is governed by rule of law and identify examples of U.S. laws.
  • Understand and explain the concept of due process and what this means in the United States.
  • Recognize the benefits of following the rule of law and having due process.
  • Explain that there are many laws governing behavior in the United States.
  • Identify some possible consequences of not following the rule of law.
  • Rule of Law  fact sheet (1 per participant) (optional) or podcast (optional)
  • Copies of images for Guided Discussion (as selected)
  • Copies of Rule of Law Guided Worksheet (Participant Version) (optional)
  • Flip-chart
  • Markers