Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

American Students Struggle In School After Their Families Return To Mexico

    President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing young immigrants to stay in the United States without fear of deportation won’t help the American children of immigrant parents who return to their native Mexico, writes Damien Cave for The New York Times:

    Never before has Mexico seen so many American Jeffreys, Jennifers and Aidens in its classrooms. The wave of deportations in the past few years, along with tougher state laws and persistent unemployment, have all created a mass exodus of Mexican parents who are leaving with their American sons and daughters.

    In all, 1.4 million Mexicans — including about 300,000 children born in the United States — moved to Mexico between 2005 and 2010, according to Mexican census figures. That is roughly double the rate of southbound migration from 1995 to 2000, and new government data published this month suggest that the flow is not diminishing. The result is an entire generation of children who blur the line between Mexican and American.

    And they’re having trouble adjusting to their parents’ culture, writes Lesli A. Maxwell for Education Week. Elementary schools in Mexico might be on par academically with underfunded public schools in the United States with large populations of English language learners, but secondary schools are another story.

    A 17-year-old Alabama teenager just weeks shy of graduation and already accepted to college had to start her high school education over when her parents decided to return to their native Mexico in advance of the state’s strict immigration law.

    According to The New York Times article, that kind of educational bureaucracy isn’t uncommon in Mexico and can make life difficult for new arrivals. Students face taunts from classmates who say they are more American than Mexican.

    “These people are the people I’ve known and lived with my whole life. I never been back to Mexico since I came here 14 years ago. This is the only life I’ve known.”
    —Elizabeth Olivas

    That’s what Elizabeth Olivas, an 18-year-old Indiana student who came to the United States as a child, said after a visa snafu almost made her miss her high school graduation. She stayed with her grandparents in Chihuahua while an attorney helped her petition for an expedited visa.

    “These people are the people I’ve known and lived with my whole life,” she told The Indianapolis Star once she was back in the United States. “I never been back to Mexico since I came here 14 years ago. This is the only life I’ve known.”

    Most of the American-born students who have moved with their families will likely return to the United States, The New York Times predicts, and they might not have the skills they need after a childhood in Mexico.


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