Don’t Abandon Our Migrant Children

America used to have a philosophy of no child left behind. 

Unfortunately that does not seem to be the current thinking when it comes to homeless and migrant children. 

A more common scene in the city is school-age children selling candy out of boxes on subway cars accompanied by a female adult, but sometimes all by themselves. 

These children should be in school, instead of riding on a subway that may be unsafe for them. These children did not make a choice to come to this country. They were simply brought here by their desperate parents or other family members. 

A recent report stated that one 1 of every 9 New York City school children experienced homelessness last year. The report attributed the number to be so high because it is “highly likely fueled by the arrival of more than 100,000 new migrants since spring 2022.” 

New York Mayor Eric Adams administration’s decision to limit the number of days a migrant family can be in a shelter to 60 days has created much of the homelessness as well as forcing families to move often, moves that may not be close to where the migrant children started the school year. 

Some 20,000 migrant children began the school year in September, according to the Department of Education. 

While the NYC DOE did a decent job with outreach prior to the beginning of the school year, there have been many missteps by other city or state agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, that at times turned a blind eye to the plight of migrant families, which have had dire effects on their school-aged children. 

One area where the schools need to step up is in teaching English to the migrant children. Without the essential skill of reading, writing, and speaking in English, it will be very difficult for these students to progress in other areas. 

There are many schools in the city that have had few English-language learners and now have many. Many classroom teachers have not been trained on how to teach this class of students, and these schools rarely have specialists to help the new students. 

So divisive is the situation that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out in defense of Mayor Adams for his handling of the situation, specifically a decision to set up a new shelter for migrants at Floyd Bennett Field at the end of Flatbush Avenue in Mill Basin. Coumo, however, did not have any support for current Gov. Kathy Hochul or the Biden administration. 

“Floyd Bennett Field is an old airstrip,” Cuomo told the audience at a Christian church on Sunday Nov. 5. “It’s a flood plain. It’s a transportation desert. It will effectively isolate thousands of migrants who need our help and deserve our help,” he added. 

Floyd Bennett Field is in a very isolated location, especially for school-aged children. The nearest grammar schools would be across the Gil Hodges Bridge in the Rockaways, which has very limited transportation access. 

We need as a city to remember when you give a child a hand up, it is better than a handout. 

Let’s not leave these children behind and find compassion for our youngest charges in order to make them better New Yorkers, and better Americans.