What would you do if there was violence all around you? What would you do if gangs threatened you or your family? What would you do if gangs were pressuring you to join them? Though most people in Charleston do not have to deal with such situations, there are a number of children and teenagers in Central America that do. And many of them have fled their home countries in search of peace and refuge, finding it in the United States.
What is particularly striking is that many of these young people have crossed the border without parents or adult relatives. As unaccompanied immigrant minors, they cannot be turned away at the border, and are instead brought to government shelters. From there, children are often released to family members, parents or adult sponsors in the community.
There has been a large influx of these immigrant children recently, many of whom will likely seek asylum. Since they do not have the legal permission to remain in the country, they will need to be granted asylum to remain in the country. Until their case comes up, however, they will be in the community.
One field that has had considerable interaction with this group of young people are teachers and school administrators. Since these children are of school age, it is expected that they will attend public school. What this means for school district budgets and resources, however, remains to be seen.
Fortunately, many of the children who are coming into the U.S. already have parents or relatives in the country, making the transition into the new country a bit easier.
Source: Education Week, “U.S. Schools Gear Up for Surge of Young Immigrants,” Lesli A. Maxwell, June 27, 2014