NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is taking a four-day trip to Central and South America to learn more about the path asylum seekers take to get to the United States. He also plans to meet with local and national leaders about the situations on the ground leading to an influx of asylum seekers arriving in the U.S.
Eyewitness News Reporter Darla Miles spoke to teachers at I.S. 181 Pablo Casals School in the Bronx to see the struggles and successes when it comes to welcoming young asylum seekers to the city school system.
“From day one, we assign them a buddy. So they have a buddy in their class that speaks English and speaks Spanish, so they’re able to kind of communicate with the rest of the group…this is what we’re looking for, this is what the teacher just said. So, that helps out a lot. We also now, this year, implemented kind of teacher buddies as well. So, each teacher or guidance counselor is assigned a few kids and we make sure every day we check in with the kids. Once a week, at least for the bigger check-in, we check in with the families so they know if there is anything they need help with any need at all. Whether it be academic or not, they know who to go to. So forming that relationship really helps like the structure of everything,” said Melissa Lonquich, ENL Teacher M.S. 181. “We make sure any technology they need they have at home, they have this year. We also gave them iPads. So now, we try as much as we can to give them native language support, but we’re not a bilingual school. So, we can only do so much of it. A lot of the teachers don’t speak Spanish. So we give them the tools that they can learn the English themselves.”
So far, 9,600 asylum-seeking students enrolled since July 2023 out of 22,000 total since July 2022.
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks has been touting the district’s “Project Open Arms.” It’s a blueprint rolled out last year that is intended to provide help with enrollment, mental health, transportation, and translation services.
“Project Open Arms has been absolutely instrumental of the success we’ve had to date,” said Banks.
The Department of Education also added 3,400 English as a Second Language and 1,700 bilingual teachers for this school year.
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