After early influx, lines dwindling at LA Unified’s immigrant center
Craig Clough | September 23, 2014
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LA Unified’s Immigrant Guidance Assessment & Placement Center saw long lines when it opened its doors in August, but concerns that the influx of students would be a problem for the district to handle appear unfounded.
During its first month of operation following the summer recess, the center processed 360 children from Aug. 12 to Sept. 12, according to a district spokeswoman, Monica Carazo. The center helps immigrant and undocumented children get enrolled at district schools while also providing vaccinations and physical and mental health assistance.
The center processed about 1,800 students during the entire 2013-14 school year, an increase of about 400 from the previous year, according to the Los Angeles Times. The spike was credited to the droves of unaccompanied minors who have been arriving from Central America at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In August, as the lines were forming at the center, some officials were worried if the influx would cause problems for the district.
“We don’t know how big a problem this is going to be,” Debra Duardo, executive director of Student Health and Human Services for LA Unified, told the L.A. Times.
But Carazo said the demand eased once classes began, adding that the earlier lines came as a result of the center’s being closed for the summer.
“Everybody was asking all summer to visit the center, and it was closed,” she said.
Carazo also said August and September are typically the busiest times of the year for the center and that it is now processing far fewer students per day than it was in August. “They are still trickling in, you always get that,” she said.
Carazo also said it is “too soon to tell” if the district will see an increase in students processed at the immigrant center, compared with the previous school year.
Over 2,000 of the unaccompanied children who have arrived at the border this year were turned over to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and united with sponsors in Los Angeles County through Aug. 31, according to the ORR.
LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy has said that although the district is legally required to offer an education to children regardless of immigration status, the district would still offer an education to any child even without the legal requirement.
“We are about caring,” Deasy told NBC4. “We are not on a political spectrum of right or left. We’re ‘C’ for center for caring. We are responsible for the care and unconditional regard and concern for any youth who crosses our threshold.”