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NEW YORK—Children with New York City public school families who may be affected by the new federal restriction on allowing asylum-seekers on a humanitarian basis to stay in the United States, said on Friday that parents are considering moving elsewhere and are speaking up about the issue.
Beginning on Nov. 1, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that announced a new executive action that he says will save lives and improve national security.
“The previous administration made clear that refugees would not be allowed to enter the country unless they met the ‘public charge’ criteria and were unable to enter if they could not support themselves financially,” Trump said in a statement.
“So, as a first step, we will require those claiming asylum in the United States to show they can support themselves financially.”
According to reports, the move by Trump did not go over well with some immigrant families.
Some parents with children in the New York City public school system expressed concern that their children would lose protections under the new policy.
According to federal law, all immigrant children cannot be deported if they have an “IQ score of 75 or greater or could ‘reasonably expect’ to have an IQ of above 76.” Children who have special needs are also exempt.
The executive order also bans those who entered the United States illegally from applying for refugee status.
New York City public school enrollment is estimated to be 1.8 million, with 5.1 percent, or 62,200 students, coming from foreign countries. Some 43 percent of New York City public school students come from Puerto Rico.
Information obtained by the New York Post showed that enrollment in the city’s Public Schools (5 public schools) declined to 499,558 students in the 2016-2017 school year from 503,674 in the 2015-2016 school year.
“Immigration policy has been a hard topic for many people to talk about, but it is a human rights issue. Keeping children in New York City Public Schools, even if it might cause the president to pass the legislation, is vital for education and for their future,” said Jorge Velasquez, the NYC Board of Education’s chief of staff.
“We would encourage the administration to help us make sure we keep our doors open to families who need our help and the support of our teachers and students.”
Julie Wood, associate director of policy research at the Migration Policy Institute, said that reducing the refugee cap to 50,000 from the current cap of 110,000 “is a big deal.”
“The purpose of refugee resettlement is to keep families together. So we need to make sure the resettlement process doesn’t break up families,” Wood said.
Despite the expected decline in enrollment, experts say that migration, a huge daily topic for news junkies, doesn’t have a direct impact on public schools.
Jennifer Douglas-Marshall, an anthropology professor at Hunter College in New York City, said that public schools were already preparing for a down enrollment because of the gentrification and population changes in areas such as Harlem and Brooklyn.
“There are students who move in and people who move out,” she said. “It doesn’t have a direct impact on public schools. This is more an issue of how the cutbacks will affect the acceptance into America as a country.”
Andrew Feinberg, the chief legal counsel for the New York City School Construction Authority, told the New York Times that “100 percent of qualified refugees will receive fair and speedy adjudication for a refugee benefit.”
“Refugees who are admitted to the United States are screened and interviewed prior to being admitted. Post-admission security check protocols are also in place,” Feinberg said.
“New York City’s focus is on making sure that families are safe, well-fed, and have adequate access to educational services, which is the responsibility of the State and City of New York.”
Reporting by Braden Lomax and Jennifer Bendery