At least 1,000 children who recently arrived in New York City from Latin America with their families seeking asylum will be welcomed to schools this fall with “open arms,” Chancellor David Banks said Friday.
The kids, ranging from 3 years old to high school age, will be enrolled in schools throughout the city and be offered specialized language assistance, pediatric care, academic help and mental health resources.
School officials said some of the new students came to New York City aboard buses sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who says Democrat-led sanctuary cities should accommodate the migrants.
“Our public schools are prepared to welcome families seeking asylum with open arms,” Banks said in a statement after the press conference at the city Department of Education's headquarters. “Our city has always stood with those in need of refuge and shelter.”
“Our schools are ready and excited to welcome our newest New Yorkers to class on September 8th.”
Officials estimate that about 6,000 asylum-seekers have come to New York City in the past three months. Some have traveled on to other destinations while others are living here in city shelters or with friends and relatives.
Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams asked the Biden administration for more federal aid to assist the families as they arrived by the dozens to the Port Authority Bus Terminal aboard buses sent by Abbott.
“New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city. I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief," Abbott said earlier this month.
Adams said Abbott’s “inhumane” move is straining the city’s shelter system. New York City law requires shelter to be provided to anyone who needs it.
Many of the families seeking asylum came from Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Honduras, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Most of the children will likely need intense language instruction, special education assessments, and mental health support, school officials said.
“I understand that there is concern in regard to making sure that kids have all the services that they need. That's a huge priority for us, too,” District 2 superintendent Kelly McGuire said after the presser. “We are trying to get kids directly into the school as quickly as possible.”
The students’ arrival may mean immediate budget increases at the schools where they enroll, First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg said.
“Schools that get more students may need more staff and they need more programming,” Weisberg said. “We plan for that in our budget and we are able to add money to school budgets in order for them to deal with an influx of new students.”
Education department spokesperson Nathaniel Styer said the school system was well-positioned to receive the new students, pointing to declining enrollment.
“We've lost 120,000 students over the last five years. Many of our schools are under-enrolled,” Styer said. “These students will be going to schools that are under-enrolled. And whenever there are new needs, we have money available for those new needs.”
The city is currently embroiled in legal negotiations with teachers and parents over hundreds of millions of dollars of proposed school budget cuts based on the drop in enrollment.
“Waves of immigration are the lifeblood of the city, and so that includes the school system,” Weisberg said.