Equity & Diversity

Will U.S. Schools Receive an Influx of Haitians?

By Mary Ann Zehr — January 26, 2010 1 min read
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Since the earthquake in Haiti, some educators in Florida have been preparing for the possibility that they could receive a large number of Haitian students who are trying to flee the devastation in their country, according to stories by news media in Florida (here and here).

Whether schools in the United States receive an influx of refugees from Haiti depends on what U.S. immigration policies will be for Haitians. Already we’re reading in newspapers about how processing for some adoptions of Haitian children were sped up after the earthquake for the well-being of the children. The Washington Post reported this week that the federal government is receiving pressure to change immigration policy so that other survivors of the earthquake can come to the United States. The Post also recently reported that at least 75 percent of schools in Port-au-Prince were destroyed (Update: CNN reports today that 90 percent of the city’s schools were destroyed.)

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, has announced that Haitians who were living illegally in this country before the earthquake can stay in this country for 18 months. But she’s also said that Haitians coming to the United States without documents after the quake will be turned back.

It will be interesting to see what decisions the Obama administration continues to make regarding this matter.

The Migration Policy Institute has released a profile of Haitians living in the United States. The country has about half a million Haitian immigrants. More than 70 percent of Haitians live in Florida and New York.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.