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Children in Mexico Caught Between Two Worlds and Two Systems

Alan Fisher - Al Jazeera
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May 11, 2013
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A border town in the US is trying stop school children from Mexico using its education system. Every day, hundreds of children cross the border into Arizona. Many were born in the US but their parents now live in Mexico. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Douglas, Arizona. (AlJazeeraEnglish)

Through the chill of the early morning, they make their way through the border. They come in pairs and in groups, the odd straggler running to catch up.

They chat, and laugh and yawn. For many, the day begins well before sunrise – and they look exhausted before the day has really begun. It normally takes 20 to 30 minutes to make the crossing, but on the worst days it can take anything up to an hour and a half.

Every day, the crossing at Douglas in Arizona sees dozens of children cross from Mexico heading to school in the US. But many shouldn’t be here. They don’t meet the local requirements.

Most are American citizens, born in the US and with a valid passport. But their parents have moved back to Mexico, where it’s cheaper to live, where they have family, where they feel comfortable.

One girl tells me her name is Angel. She’s wearing a light zipped sweatshirt and carries a heavy backpack weighed down by school books. "I’m American. I’m from Arizona and so I have to come here to school."

Luis is her friend and he tells me a similar story: "I was born here so I need to come to school here in the United States."

Many of the children are caught between two worlds and two systems. They tell me if they were born in the US, then schools in Mexico demand payment for schooling. But then if their family doesn’t have residency in Douglas, they shouldn’t be going to school here.

So to give their children the best possible education, many parents bend the rules. Critics say they are essentially stealing an education.

Read the rest at Al Jazeera

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