- The New York City Department of Education is launching a plan to support families seeking asylum and ensure children are ready for the school year that begins Sept. 8, according to an Aug. 19 announcement by Mayor Eric Adams, the school system and the city's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Department of Social Services.
- The plan, titled “Project Open Arms,” includes wraparound services for newcomer students and families. One initiative aims to simplify the district's enrollment process by organizing pop-up Family Welcome Centers with staff to identify local schools for enrollment, provide backpacks and school supplies, and connect families to health services.
- An influx of asylum seekers has New York and other school systems preparing for a sudden bump of children and families needing an array of educational, health and housing services. Schools can serve as a vital resource for supports for families of asylum seekers, according to the National Association of School Psychologists.
New York City schools are expecting at least 1,000 children of asylum seekers, including preschoolers, to enter the school system this school year, according to the announcement.
"Our public schools are prepared to welcome families seeking asylum with open arms,” said NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks, in the statement. "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."
A September 2021 RAND Corp report found that between 2017 and 2019, some 491,000 children from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrived in the U.S. and remained with unresolved immigration statuses.
By March 2020, about 321,000 of those children had enrolled in K-12 public schools. Most — about 75% — settled in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana.
RAND researchers estimated multiple states would have needed to hire an additional 1,000 teachers to maintain teacher-student classroom ratios and accommodate these new students.
An Aug. 19 statement from Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott's office said the state has bused more than 7,000 migrants to Washington since April and over 900 migrants to New York City since Aug. 5.
"Frankly, I don't know of a larger crisis facing our country right now," said Abbott in the statement. "Before we began busing migrants to New York, it was just Texas and Arizona that bore the brunt of all the chaos and problems that come with it. Now, the rest of America can understand exactly what is going on."
In New York City, officials pledged to strengthen coordination among various offices for educational outreach, including:
- Language supports. The district's plan includes supporting families in their native languages. It is also sharing resources with school leaders to provide translated content-specific information.
- Academic and extracurricular experiences. The district said it will work to ensure instructional resources are culturally and linguistically responsive. Educators will receive guidance in second language acquisition and specialized instruction for diverse learners. The city also said it would target extracurricular activities to students' needs and interests.
- Social-emotional screening. Every student enrolled in the district is to have access to universal social-emotional screening and supports. School administrators and staff plan to review attendance and social-emotional data and verify that interventions and supports are being conducted.