According to the New York Times article by Kirk Semple, Mexicans are the fastest growing major immigrant group in the city, numbering at about 183,200, according to the census, way above the 33,600 in 1990. These are only the ones that are accounted for, illegal immigrants make the number rise even higher. The adult immigrants were successful by working in kitchens, construction and even starting their own small businesses. However, the children of these immigrants are not continuing along the same successful paths. “About 41 percent of all Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school, according to census data.” (Semple, Kirk) This is extremely higher than any other major immigrant group in the city, whose dropout rates do not go above 20 percent.
“Experts say the crisis stems from many factors — or what Dr. Smith called ‘a perfect storm of educational disadvantage.'” (Semple, Kirk) Many of the parents of these students work multiple jobs, leaving little to no time to focus on their children’s school work. They also may not speak the language, making it difficult for them to communicate with the teachers and educators. Lastly, they are also afraid to speak with the schools, in fear they will get deported due to their illegal immigrant status. All of these factors affect the way the children see their schooling and school work. If the parents do not make it a priority, neither will the children. Students also believe that because of their illegal status as immigrants, they will not qualify for financial aid and employment opportunities. However, this is not correct. Illegal immigrants who graduate from a high school in New York State or earn a G.E.D. are not only allowed to attend the state’s public university system, they are also eligible for in-state tuition.
Over the past few years, CUNY and the Mexican consulate and other advocacy groups in New York have established after-school tutoring, college preparation and scholarship programs and college admissions and financial aid counseling for both students and parents. The New York Immigration Coalition also started a program to bring more immigrant parents to the school, focusing first on the Mexicans. These programs have already yielded some good results but advocates say it has been a continuing uphill battle. I believe that in order for there to be substantial results, we need the government’s help and aid in funding these programs and making it available to every immigrant student. They need to be educated on the importance of education and how lack of it can limit your choices in the future.
This article reminded me of the Steinberg reading on Cabrini Green and how concentrated poverty leads to crime and leaves the poor to get poorer and does not allow them to move up in society. I believe that if we let this problem lag on, the same thing will happen. Children will continue dropping out of school and they will continue working low paying jobs and never be able to advance or move forward in society. Change definitely needs to happen and the sooner it happens, the sooner these children will be better off and the community at large will benfit.
Below is a link to the article: