More than 12,000 illegal immigrant encounters occurred on U.S. soil on Dec. 5, 2023 alone, 10,200 of whom breezed across the southern border between defunct ports of entry.
A staggering 2.8 million people have illegally crossed the border since President Biden’s inauguration.
As a result, the nation’s public school system is grappling with educating more than 840,000 new immigrant children and upwards of 4.6 million English language learners.
Under the Biden administration’s dereliction of duty, the border crisis has metastasized from a national security issue into a homelessness crisis, as well as an education emergency, one impacting the largest cities to the smallest municipalities.
Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams summed it up succinctly, saying that "help [to states and local governments] is not on the way."
Aside from such concessions that "we are not okay," no plan has emerged from Democratic officials or their leftist cohorts.
In cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., the landscape is all too similar: illegal immigrants sleep outside police stations, while their children ride around on electronic scooters at all hours.
Children who arrive with an immigrant adult may move about freely without any official state records or immunizations.
These unaccompanied minors are provided with shelter by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
With city shelters overrun, even homeless American families are camping in parks and in front of public libraries.
It seems like all levels of government are in a state of paralysis, seemingly waiting for things to either improve or reach rock bottom. It's hard to imagine what will happen first.
But even in this vacuum of leadership, there are things school districts can do at the state and local level.
As many districts are running low on funds and approaching a fiscal cliff, schools and districts should take this time to account for how much teachers (out of their personal budgets), schools, and districts spend on supplemental toiletries and meals.
If they have not already, districts should partner with local philanthropic groups to inform them of the issue and ask how local groups can help share the burden of the community.
Many groups were created for this issue but there is a disconnect between the schools’ needs and local group resources.
Likewise, districts should form partnerships with local high school organizations, such as the National Honor Society, to find volunteers to help with ESL courses or provide one-on-one tutoring to (often) homeless immigrant children.
This is merely a starting point.
Once schools have an accounting of the needs they have and what they are spending out of pocket, they should have a better sense of needs to come.
States and cities know their issues best and there certainly will not be a one-size-fits-all solution to this catastrophe.
The ripple effect of the border crisis is just getting started and the 2024 presidential election is almost a year away.
So, the time is now for schools to plan how they are going to confront a problem they did not cause but can play a unique role in mitigating.
Caroline Moore serves as Vice President for Parents Defending Education.
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