Teens who crossed US border alone enter schools

Article author: 
Kimberly Hefling
Article publisher: 
MSN News
Article date: 
29 September 2014
January 2016
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

The group of mostly Spanish-speaking teenage boys with styled spiky hair and high-top sneakers enthusiastically pecks away on hand-held tablets at the G.W. Carver Education Center, pausing to alert the teacher when stumped.

"If you don't know what you're supposed to write on the line, look at my examples, OK?" she tells one of them.

The students are eager but face barriers. Many crossed the U.S. border. Some can barely read or write in their native language.

U.S. schools are now dealing with the fallout from the dramatic spike in the number of children and teenagers who crossed into the United States unaccompanied by family; the Supreme Court has ruled that they have an obligation to educate all students regardless of their immigration status.

The teenagers at the G.W. Education Center ride a school bus, practice food names with the school cafeteria manager and recite the names of body parts in gym class — all part of an English immersion newcomers program ...

Large numbers of these students have moved to metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Miami and Houston, but also to communities of all sizes in nearly every state, according to federal data. That's because most typically go live with a relative or guardian while their case makes its way through the immigration courts system — a process that can take years ...

In Delaware's Sussex County, the community long has attracted immigrants, partly because of work in chicken factories, and soybean and corn fields. The district's population is more than one-quarter Hispanic, and for years has offered an early learning program for non-English speakers.

Still, officials were caught off guard by the number of new students ...

Donald Hattier, a school board member, said advance warning would have helped with planning. The federal government, he said, "just dropped this on us." He wonders what's next.

"The kids are still coming across the border. This problem has not been solved," Hattier said.

Educators in Delaware and elsewhere say many of these students, who fled poverty and violence, have yearslong gaps in schooling ...

Margie McHugh, director of the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration, says it's critical that children given permission to stay in the United States are integrated into American life and are educated ...

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