A schoolteacher friend is having her high school students work on projects dealing with the Great Depression. She tells me that, in her U.S. history class, the coming of spring always coincides with the stock market crash of '29, followed by World War II in April, the ’60s in May, Watergate in early June and “all the rest” squeezed in during the last dizzy days before summer vacation.

This year, though, there's an interesting twist: A lot of kids in the class are wanting to try to compare what's going on right now with the economic crisis of the 1930s.

That might be a pretty tough assignment, since the data is coming hard and fast — especially hard — and since it's always difficult to assess events as they happen. Still, it's heartening that a bunch of teenagers would want to take history into account as they watch circumstances unfold around them. I don't remember doing much of that when I was their age.

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I failed to mention that these particular students of American history aren't even living in America. In fact, only a few of them are from the U.S. at all. They're kids at an international school here in Morocco. Why they're so tuned in to the economic news is a mystery to me, although I do know that they are nearly always on top of breaking news stories in the U.S.

From this northern tip of Africa, on the southern side of the Mediterranean, following the world news sometimes seems a little like watching a gang of giant gladiators battle it out in an arena. The big news almost always seems to be from the U.S., Europe, China or the Middle East, and the big players always seem to be somebody besides themselves. But you can't ignore the clamor.

Once, when I was helping a Moroccan businessman friend practice his English, I pulled out a young people's picture book on the Great Depression. (Did I really buy this for my kids?) I thought it would be an eye-opener for him to see the land of shiny skyscrapers as it appeared during the Dust Bowl years. I could tell that he wasn't especially impressed.

“Look at those long lines of people waiting just to apply for a job,” I said.

“Oh, that's the way it's always been here,” he replied. “But those people” — and he pointed at the picture — “weren't really poor for very long, were they?”

His comment came to mind recently when I ran across a report that described how immigration patterns are being affected by the global economic crisis. In short, they're not.

You'd think that, at the first wind of a worsening job market, of lot of those unskilled and semi-skilled workers who were willing to change countries in search of jobs would decide to head home. That's not the case at all, or at least not yet. Instead, studies are showing that immigrants are responding to the economic crisis with remarkable resilience, if you can call “resilience” a willingness to pull up stakes and go to another part of the country where the grass is a bit greener, even just a little.

What they're not doing is going home. Most undoubtedly expect that, if conditions are worsening in their host country, things could only be tougher back home. They probably also recognize that, with increasingly strict border controls in place, it might not be so easy to get back in once things get better.

What may change, and for the worse, is a social climate that is already hostile toward foreign workers. Here in Morocco, homeland of many of Europe's “guest helpers,” we're hearing stories of Moroccan family members in France and the Netherlands who are finding the welcome going from chilly to absolutely frigid.

Even foreign workers in white-collar jobs suspect that they're getting the worst part of a bad deal as companies begin to lay off middle-management employees — “non-natives” first, or so it appears.

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Americans working abroad tend to have a more generous attitude toward foreign workers in our home country, since we in fact are foreign workers ourselves. Sort of. This is doubtless a bit of bone-headed liberal romanticism, since it's absurd for most American expats to pretend to identify with folks out in a tomato field in south Texas or in a poultry plant in North Carolina who, unlike me, didn't choose their place of employment so much as resign themselves to it.

Boneheaded or not, I'm one of those who've always been soft on immigration. For example, when I read in The Economist that immigration normally has a positive net effect on a host country's economy, I'm quick to send the link to my “America First” friends I'm always preaching to.

Of course, I haven't yet lost my job due to outsourcing or factory-shifting or some other phenomenon from the dark side of economic globalization, so it's easy to keep a cool head.

Still, even we followers of Professor Pangloss would have to smirk at an opinion piece last October in The Wall Street Journal. What's the cure for the economic crisis in the U.S., it asked? Easy, explains Lee H. Ohanian, a UCLA economics professor. Open the immigration floodgates.

Let those folks come in, find jobs (?) and — get this — buy houses!

“And note that the benefit would be immediate,” Dr. Ohanian writes. “Home prices — and the value of subprime obligations — would rise in anticipation of a higher population base. … These workers not only would purchase homes, but would generate higher living standards for all Americans.”

In his defense, Dr. Ohanian appears to be talking about highly skilled immigrants, who might conceivably be able to procure a mortgage on an undervalued house. But he seems not to realize that the vast majority of immigrant workers consider themselves lucky to live in something other than a cinder-block shed.

It appears that, even among devotees of the dismal science, there are those who still believe in The Best of All Possible Worlds.