At Least 40 Immigrant Children Miss First Day of School

(Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash)

As children across New York City returned to school on Wednesday, some 40 immigrant children brought here after being separated from their parents at the border still do not know where they will receive their education.

While in temporary welcome centers, children may not be enrolled in New York City public schools. Lawyers and city officials are pressing for a solution to this situation. Not only is the education they receive at these centers inadequate, but also these are children with special needs. Advocates say that the children are traumatized and that each of them has unique requirements.

What will happen to them? Who should look after them? That is the critical question. City Hall has told Politico that the kids are the responsibility of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). However, the city wants to do everything in its power to integrate them into its school system.

“I have asked both the DOE and the mayor’s office to explore every legal avenue to find ways to have these children mainstreamed into our public schools,,” said Council member Mark Treyger, who is a member of the Committee on Education. He added: “We have seats available.”

In the meantime, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza lamented that “there’s not much we can do while they’re in federal custody.” The worst part is that, because the children are not under its jurisdiction, the city is not receiving information on the educational status of the minors.

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In June, there were around 300 children in New York City who had been separated from their parents. By August, the number had decreased to fewer than 100. Many of them were sent to welcome centers or “sponsor” families so they could be enrolled in schools.

Children who have been taken in by sponsors or families are allowed to study in public schools while they await their immigration process.

Still, many experts have questions regarding the type of schooling these children – who remain under federal custody – are receiving.

“The big unknown for us is what happens inside the ORR shelters in terms of education, and two, how many of those kids are going to end up in a sponsor or long-term foster care situation. We have no idea,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director at Advocates for Children of New York.

Federal legislation stipulates that children must take a minimum of six hours of classes per day. However, because the Office of Refugee Resettlement is not releasing any information, it is impossible to know whether this is being observed and under what conditions.

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