Since the beginning of the year, nearly 40,000 Central American minors detained after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have been reunited with their parents or relatives in the U.S. About 6,000 of them are in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Hundreds will be attending local schools while they wait for their immigration cases to conclude, and most area school systems are gearing up to address the educational and emotional needs of these often traumatized kids.
The conference room in an Adelphi Elementary School is where Prince George's County residents enroll children who come from all over the world into the school system. As in years past, the largest number of foreign born students come from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“We're seeing a very high number of students, they have all arrived either early in the spring or the last few weeks," says Dianne Yohi, a teacher in Prince George's County.
She helps assess the English language skills of the unaccompanied minors from Central America when they enroll.
"They don’t speak any English, many of them have not completed a grade level equal to their age," she says.