‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Land in School
Picked up by immigration authorities, these undocumented children are sent to shelters and educated while they wait out deportation proceedings.
In some ways, this public school of some 50 students here in southwest Miami is like one new immigrants might have attended a century ago. Children of varying ages are grouped together in each of three classrooms. Those who know more are urged to help those who know less. The school board requires that subjects such as social studies and science be taught, but the teachers don’t break them into distinct classes. Rather, they weave them into the day’s lessons, which focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic. Desks are set in straight rows, and teachers are strict.
But in other ways, the school is peculiar to today’s United States, particularly in how it reflects the complexity of the country’s laws on the politically charged subject of immigration.
It is in a shelter for children classified by the federal government as “unaccompanied minors” because they were without their parents when caught by immigration officials. Some were apprehended soon after crossing the Mexican-U.S. border, others were caught in raids by immigration authorities while working in the United States, and yet others were detained after being smuggled into this country by “coyotes” hired by parents who had previously come to the United States illegally. A few may have been victims of...
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