NYC is rushing to enroll immigrant students ahead of the first day of school on September 7th

New York City’s education authorities on Tuesday scrambled to enroll a staggering nearly 20,000 immigrant children by the start of school in two days.

According to the latest figures from the town hall, around 19,000 children live in temporary accommodation – most of them are asylum seekers.

Yohanna Silva, 46, said her 11-year-old son would enroll in the 7th grade class at Queens’ Academy for New Americans, a middle school at PS 234, at a Holiday Inn in Long Island City that has been converted into lodging from Astoria.

The mother-of-three said it’s the first time her son has attended school in the United States. Silva also has two other sons – an infant and an adult.

“I came here from Venezuela because the situation is so unstable. There is no work, no education for my children, no food, nothing,” said Silva.

“I am very happy that he can go to school here. The training for him before that was so bad.”

Silva and other shelter residents spoke to The Post in Spanish while members of the National Guard were at the hotel delivering relief supplies and signing people up for various social services.

Online for enrollment
People line up Tuesday at a DOE Welcome Center in Jamaica, Queens, to enroll in a public school.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

“The process has been really easy so far. The paperwork was not a problem. People show us what they do. We’ve had a lot of help from people in this process,” she said.

“My son doesn’t speak English, but I’m not worried about that. They will teach him English at school.”

At a Department of Education welcome center in Queens Plaza North, Peruvian migrant Rosa Escobar enrolled her three teenagers in school while they stayed in their accommodation.

“It was tough here. I’ve been trying to find a job but haven’t been able to work yet,” said the 50-year-old.

“I try to enroll my children in school. I’m happy they can go to school here, but I’m trying to sort out the paperwork.”

Antonio Escalante arrived in the city three months ago with his wife and 13-year-old son Isaac David Escalante Barros after fleeing Colombia, where his other two adult sons still live.

Isaac had attended a summer school in town and was scheduled to start ninth grade at PS 204 in Long Island City.

“I’m not scared of going to high school at all. The school I’ve been to was great. I made a lot of new friends. I’m really happy to be here,” he said, adding that his favorite part of the US is Times Square and he hopes to one day join the US Army.

“Colombia was terrible. Except for my brothers, I don’t miss any of it. I miss her a lot.”

Antonio said registering for the school was one of the easiest aspects of his arduous asylum seeker.

Asylum seekers waited to enroll their children in school in East Harlem
Asylum seekers waited to enroll their children in school in East Harlem.
GN Miller/NY Post

“So far it has been really difficult here. It was difficult to get a work permit and to find an apartment. But it was actually quite easy to find a school for my child. They tell us exactly what to do. But it’s also slow. It takes forever and it’s really frustrating. I think it’s because there are so many migrants here that the government can’t deal with everyone,” he said.

“We’re just trying to settle in here, build a life and put him through school. It’s so bad in Colombia. My other two sons are still there trying to make money. “It was so hard that we had to leave,” he added.

Immigration advocates held a news conference Tuesday at the Midtown office of the New York Immigration Coalition to shed light on the “issues.” [facing] Immigrant and asylum seeker families this school year.

Migrant children in urban shelters have “a right to be enrolled in the nearest school,” but families who can travel may choose more distant schools with “stronger concurrent support,” said Liza Schwartzwald, director of the nonprofit economic justice and family empowerment.

Additional funding for the increase in immigrant students would be provided through the city’s Fair Student Funding program, which is based on the number of students enrolled in each school and their needs, and through Project Open Arms, a City Council initiative that provides resources for social services deploys for migrants in public schools.

DOE Chancellor David Banks last week said the program had provided $110 million for the school’s “immediate needs” and said that for the school year, 3,400 teachers with an “English as a new language” license and more than 1,700 teachers who speak fluent Spanish are on site.

A wide angle view of the Department of Education Welcome Center on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica.
A wide angle view of the Department of Education Welcome Center on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

The country’s largest school district had a budget of $37.5 billion for the 2023-24 school year, officials said.

“As you all know, about 19,000 asylum-seeking students entered our public school system in New York City in the last year, and more newcomers have arrived and are currently being trained,” Schwartzwald said.

“These students and all of our English learners deserve access to quality education,” she added.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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