Migration over the U.S. southwest border in the past decade has been composed of growing numbers of undocumented and asylum-seeking families and children from Mexico and Central America. By U.S. law, states must provide education to all children, regardless of immigration status. Yet sufficient information needed for policymaking is lacking, in particular about the ages and geographic locations of the children by state and district, needs for teachers and staff to accommodate these children, and experiences and good practices in schools.
To fill this gap, the authors model the numbers of such children by state, review the federal and state policy landscapes, and provide case studies of how schools are managing education. The report specifically aims to help various stakeholders understand the broad range of issues and implications related to population increases in undocumented and asylum-seeking children over the southwest border.
- Growing numbers of undocumented and asylum-seeking children from Central America and Mexico are arriving in the United States.
- Approximately 575,000 were encountered at the border from FYs 2017 to 2019, and 321,000 were enrolled in U.S. schools in 2020.
- Federal law establishes the rights of these children to public education.
- The two case study school districts, Jefferson Parish Schools and Oakland Unified School District, were making efforts to provide quality education for this population and address challenges through innovating and learning.
- However, gaps remain in the supports needed in the education of these newcomers, including those related to data, educational resources, funding, and nonacademic supports.