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As American Kids Pour Across the Border, Mexican Schools Struggle to Keep Up

Kristen Hwang - The Desert Sun
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September 5, 2017
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U.S. Children in Mexican Schools (The Desert Sun)

An increasing number of children have moved to Mexico because their parents had been deported, and educators on both sides of the border worry that even more American kids will leave the U.S. as a result of the GOP taking control of Congress. President Donald Trump has made strict immigration policy a cornerstone of his agenda, and now, more and more families are hedging their bets, preferring to stay united in Mexico rather than be separated by international borders.

Already, researchers and authorities estimate between half a million and 800,000 American children have moved to Mexico since 2008 and most come from the Golden State.

It's creating an education conundrum that strains the resources of the Mexican and U.S. governments, and one that both will need to address. In Mexico, American citizen children face an education system that isn't fully prepared for the influx of students, especially students who don't speak Spanish. And children who choose to stay in the U.S., separated from their parents who return to Mexico, are more likely to suffer from early-onset mental illness and behavioral problems. Both groups are likely to drop out of school altogether.

“With the new government in the U.S. there is a lot of speculation that there is going to be a massive exodus so that the Mexicans are going to get back to Mexico,” said Mario Benitez Reyes, superintendent of schools in Tecate, Mexico.

On the U.S. side of the border, the fear is almost palpable in Hispanic communities. Latino students make up about 97 percent of the population in the eastern Coachella Valley, a rural area that stretches from Indio to the shores of the Salton Sea. No one knows for sure how many students or parents are undocumented, but the common sentiment is that everyone knows someone who is there illegally.

Many families in the area have worked in the surrounding fields for generations, some even alongside Cesar Chavez. They want their children to stay in school and get better jobs, but there is no denying that agriculture in the U.S. is tied to the cheap labor that comes from undocumented immigrants.

Read the rest at The Desert Sun

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