Thousands of migrant children will no doubt be burdensome to the New York City economy and stretch limited resources that fund public education and social services.
It has been cruelly and erroneously called an invasion. Calling it an intrusion is harsh and smacks of cultural insularity. But undeniably it is an inundation and will take its toll.
But even though the crisis is a largely manufactured political gambit, it must be justly and compassionately managed.
Although we don't welcome the dilemma, we must embrace and protect the innocence of the kids who are caught in the middle of another botched historical circumstance hatched by adults.
The children must not be used as political footballs. Let's leave them out of range of the adult rantings. They must be given a chance to enjoy childhood, oblivious to the partisan chess game that is being played out by zealots and cheating governors.
The sober reality is that the pressure on city housing is already untenable.They need food and medical care. By current law, these migrants are eligible to be famished, but not for employment. That needs to be fixed, so they can "earn their keep,” which most of them devoutly desire to do.
Providing practical necessities of life on such a grand scale is beyond the means of even this most empathetic, sanctuary city.
There must be rapid and sweeping damage control that will punish neither the migrants nor purge the taxpayers. A tourniquet must be applied not just to the hemorrhaging at the border, but to the rash, arterial bloodletting of argument.
And throughout this process, the migrant children must be absorbed within the school system and unstintingly showered with every program to advance their intellectual, social and emotional growth.
The migrants cannot be blamed for seeking a better life. But the flow of their numbers must be stanched. The infrastructure cannot carry the weight. It is pragmatic economics, not that they are a threat to our sovereignty.
They have not been vetted. It is absurd to minimize the risk of there being no reliable knowledge about them whatsoever. Any cross-section of thousands of people is bound to include some extreme “undesirables.”
Acknowledging that does not make one a reactionary or fascist.
Inevitably, among the proponents of tighter enforcement at the border will be some individuals who fit those categories. But the odiousness of their motivation does not invalidate similar arguments of more honorable critics.
The super-huge majority of migrants are not parasites or drug dealers. But there are 120,000 annual deaths by fentanyl, of which the primary point of entry into the United States is the southern border. We cannot trust the honor of millions of total strangers.
The fatality rate from fentanyl exceeds in one year the military death toll in the more than a dozen years of the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
Being alarmed does not make one a gestapo-like thug. The issue needs to be raised in connection with the current challenges of migration.
But even as we are maddened by both our leadership and its critics, we must never lose sight of the poignant state of our stateless migrant children.
We must secure the border. But we must also secure their future.
The phrase "tender, loving care" somehow lost its luster and became commonplace when abbreviated to TLC. It's been neutralized and rendered a platitude like “thoughts and prayers.”
But that's what these kids deserve in spades. We must drench them and permeate their learning environment with it. And they must also be vaccinated consistent with the requirements that are enforced for all other public school students.
No exemptions, religious or otherwise.
The Department of Education must deploy additional guidance counselors and Spanish-language teachers to schools where the migrants are enrolled. To offset the shortage of licensed Spanish teachers, a common-sense interim measure might be to hire Spanish-speaking professionals in other areas, vet them and expedite their temporary assignment to the classroom.
The DOE is slow as molasses at coming up with and implementing solutions. The graver the urgency, the more lackadaisical their action.
Bilingual and students with disabilities are mandated by law to receive services according to their needs. Migrant children are equally entitled. They don't get second-class status.
Not under the law. Not under heaven.
Kids are sitting in classes where they don't understand a word of what is going on and nobody is fluent in their language to communicate with them. Assimilation is a natural, but delayed process. Learning exclusively by osmosis is not a viable strategy for these kids . On top of everything else, these kids are mightily tasked with decompressing from trauma.
“I want [my daughter] to learn a lot and to open up her mind. I want her to put behind all that we have endured,” said a parent quoted on CNN.
Of course, justice costs money, and the government is more inclined to pass the buck than pass the dollars.
Mayor Eric Adams wanted to slit the throat of the DOE budget until it bleeds over $200 million worth of its lifeblood and punt to the federal government.
If we place our hopes in the feds' stepping into the breach, we will be stepping into the manure of false expectation.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is impatient. She knows the DOE must be browbeaten to “get a handle” on the challenges of over 20,000 asylum-seeking children into the school system.
“This is crazy. There's no uniform orders on what to do and no accountability in ensuring these young people are registered in schools and have the appropriate seats. There's nothing systematic,” said an anonymous DOE employee quoted in the Daily News.
The DOE, seeking to blur its failures by professing shared responsibility, trumpeted an “all hands on deck” collaboration with other city agencies.
The presence of the migrant kids is feeding a pretext to blame them for allegedly lower standards for all children in their classrooms. The Daily Mail cited a mother who was "outraged" by the "dumbed-down" lessons,” claiming the "lower-level work" is due to the immigrants. “They're making the curriculum easier. It's ridiculous.”
Whether or not the lessons are being tailored to the lowest denominator of skill level, these migrant kids are likely being scapegoated by this assertion. With proper support, there are ways to meet individualized instructional needs.
And if the kids are completely unskilled in English, it won't matter much how difficult the material is, as they won't fathom it anyway.
It seems that the pathos of these kids is less likely to be lost on their non-migrant peers than on their parents. “They look so lonely, quiet, and lost,” a father's daughter told him.
Integrating the migrant kids into the classroom mainstream begins with non-academic gestures. They should not be required to wear lime green ID tags, as reported by the Daily Mail. It is branding no less than Texas Governor Greg Abbot's allegedly bar-coding them.
It's projected that around 100,000 migrants will be filling our shelter within months. Many will be children. It is already a logistical nightmare.
A "perfect storm" for dehumanization.
“I feel great about where we are,” said School Chancellor David Banks. In the wilderness that is the brain matter of the DOE's visionary planners, "feeling" is a false identical twin to reality.