Volunteers say resources needed for migrant students in NYC

Immigration

A bus with migrants on board, originating in Texas, arrives at Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City on August 25, 2022. – Since April, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered buses to carry thousands of migrants from Texas to Washington, DC, and New York City to highlight criticisms of US President Joe Bidens border policy. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

(NewsNation) — Thousands of migrants seeking asylum have arrived in New York City over the past few weeks.

They’ve been sent in buses from Texas and Arizona, with both states’ governors saying they’re dropping them off in New York and other large cities to protest the Biden administration’s border policies.

Many of them are welcomed by a reception center for asylum seekers, inside the New York City offices of the American Red Cross.

“At this time, the Red Cross is not offering services for asylum seekers — however, those visiting the processing center will be able to access support from other agencies from this central location,” spokesperson Emily Osment said in a statement.

It’s at this reception center that people can get help with paperwork, medical needs or finding a place to stay.

These migrants come at a time when kids are getting enrolled in school, for a new year that starts in about a week. New York City schools are preparing to welcome 1,000 children as part of Mayor Eric Adams’ “Project Open Arms,” which aims to provide educational assistance to asylum-seeking families.

Schools, already facing a widely reported teacher shortage nationwide, will need educators on their staff who are not only bilingual, but also, who understand the intricacies of these families’ situations.

In the immediate term, David C. Banks, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, said resources will not be an issue.

“Our public schools are prepared to welcome families seeking asylum with open arms,” Banks said in a statement, according to Chalkbeat New York. “We are working alongside our agency partners to set students up for success by addressing their academic, emotional and social needs, and ensuring there is no disruption to their education.”

But there will be appeals to the federal government for reimbursement — and more help moving forward — as migrants continue arriving from Texas.

For volunteers and advocates helping these families get acclimated, it’s about striving to provide an education for everybody, regardless of where they came from.

Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of Advocates for Children of New York, said they are concerned there isn’t enough staff at the schools who speak the migrant students’ language and are able to help their families.

“It’s also a bigger challenge for students who are in a shelter and families who are in shelter, because they experience a whole different level of hardship and discrimination in their shelters,” Rodriguez-Engberg said. “We want to make sure that when they’re in school, they’re not feeling that way.”

Migrant children are assigned to schools close to the shelters they’re staying in. Placement should not be a problem this year, as New York City is expecting about 30,000 fewer K-12 students this year than last.

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