NYC schools prep to enroll 1,000 migrant children

Border Report

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — The nation’s largest school district is preparing to begin this school year transitioning an influx of migrant children sent from the U.S.-Mexico border with asylum-seeking parents into their classrooms.

When New York City Public Schools reopen on Sept. 8, about 1,000 children are expected to enroll in part of New York Mayor Eric Adams’ “Project Open Arms,” which aims to provide educational assistance to asylum-seeking families.

This comes amid the heated bus battle between Adams, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey. Abbott has been shipping migrants, mostly from Central and South America, north to protest what he says are the Biden administration’s lax policies.

Since April, busloads of migrants have boarded buses at the southern border with one-way tickets to New York City and Washington, D.C.

Thus far, more than 7,000 migrants have arrived in New York City. They receive city services like health care and housing, and children are enrolled in schools and given bookbags and school supplies.

“When kids come into the school building, we assess what their needs might be. We make sure we’re meeting kids where they’re at,” said Kelly McGuire, superintendent at the NYC Department of Education.

Advocates for children said their biggest concern is staffing among schools already stretched thin due to budget cuts. 

“Our concern is that there isn’t sufficient staff at each school that is bilingual and that are knowledgeable to be able to help families and to help all the students are coming in,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, an immigrant rights advocate.

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks is seeking more federal funding to help pay for more Spanish-speaking administrators and teachers.

“In the immediate term, we will ensure the resources will not be an issue and will deploy as necessary and make the appeals to have those dollars returned,” Banks said. “We are looking at bringing teachers from the Dominican Republic to come here to work with us in New York City,” 

Reema Amin, a Chalkbeat reporter covering New York City Public Schools state policy and English language learners, said city officials are also planning on partnering with community-based organizations to support the influx of families.

in partnering with these groups, they’re hoping that those groups that are closer to families on the ground can reach them in terms of providing information in their home language, or in different dialects of Spanish, which is the language believed to be of the recent influx of asylum-seeking families,” Amin said. “They are also partnering with those community groups to ensure that if they are entering shelter, to help ensure that they’re getting all the services they need.”

Migrant children will be assigned to schools close to their shelters.

School officials are expecting 30,000 fewer K-12 students in the New York City Public School system this new school year, so placement won’t be a problem.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, about 40 migrant children are expected to enroll in District of Columbia Public Schools for the new school year.

NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.

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