Carvalho Says Miami-Dade Expecting Influx of Immigrant Students from Central America

Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho gave an impassioned speech Friday that addressed both the opening of the school year, but also the immigration crisis along the nation’s southwest border.

“We are bracing ourselves for about a thousand or more and we are ready for them,” Carvalho said. “But again, we are asking the support of the one entity that’s responsible for immigration, which is the federal government – which in my opinion has done too little and too late.”

Carvalho said the situation along the border is a humanitarian crisis. He also said the federal government recently awarded Miami-Dade County Schools $3 million in supplemental funding to deal with the influx of kids expected from the border. But, Carvalho said that amount is likely insufficient.

“For every single child that arrives here not speaking the language, poor, and with psychological needs, we spend in excess of $1,950 per year,” Carvalho said.

Most unaccompanied children crossing the border are fleeing violence and poverty from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Miami has the nation's largest Honduran population, meaning a high number of minors are released from refugee shelters to relatives here while their case is processed.

“Since the vast majority of these children arrive here from Honduras, speaking Spanish, I think the nature of the diversity in our community, the skill set, and the courage, the will to embrace and teach these kids,” Carvalho said in his speech.

As Carvalho finished the portion of his speech, one principal said she is ready to embrace the influx of students.

“We take them in and they become part of, like a family,” Dr. Susana Mauri of the South Dade Educational Center said. “Because we have a structure at the school where they come in to an orientation class to get them acclimated.”

Carvalho said that while the influx of students will mean extra work, he stressed that welcoming the undocumented students will be key to making the transition easier.

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