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Testimony: The Quality of Education for Immigrant Students in NYC Public Schools

The recent increase of newly arrived immigrants in New York City has understandably led to a corresponding increase of students enrolled in New York City public schools. Jessica Selecky, Director of the Special Education Unit at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), testified in an oversight hearing before the New York City Council Committees on Immigration and Education to provide insight into the challenges these students and their families face in accessing the public education they’re entitled to—all while navigating language barriers and destabilizing shelter policies. Below is an excerpt from her testimony: 

“We appreciate the opportunity to testify to the Immigration and Education Committees regarding immigrants in New York City Public Schools (“NYCPS”). NYLAG is proud to operate in a City that values its immigrant community and supports much-needed services to them. As a ‘sanctuary city’ with innovative and responsive programming and services for our immigrant communities, NYC serves as a model to the nation. Almost 30,000 newly arrived immigrant children have entered NYCPS since the spring of 2022. Indeed, the NYCPS reported an 8,000 student increase in overall enrollment—the first enrollment increase in eight years. Simultaneously, NYCPS is confronting imminent and severe budget reductions amounting to nearly $550 million. NYLAG is very concerned that these budget cuts will exacerbate existing inequities in an already ailing NYCPS, which routinely fails to provide legally mandated supports and services to our most vulnerable student populations, including immigrant children, children with disabilities, and children living in poverty.” 

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