The recent move by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to use state funds to pick up migrant Venezuelans in Texas and fly them to the politically liberal island of Martha’s Vineyard got enormous media attention — which he intended.

What too often gets ignored in the national debate about immigration policy is the plight of migrant children who come to the United States and want to go to school. Legally they are allowed to attend public schools, though they face numerous hurdles before they can sit in a classroom and after they enroll.

This post looks at these challenges. It was written by Sophia Rodriguez, an assistant professor in urban education at the University of Maryland at College Park and author of the recent book “Race Frames in Education.” Her research examines how school and policy contexts welcome and include Latino/x immigrant youths and how community-school partnerships increase access to resources and opportunities for immigrant-origin youths. At U-Md., she directs the Immigrant Ed Next Lab, which includes several research projects to promote policy-relevant research and advocacy for immigrant youths.

Note: This post includes a number of quotes from people Rodriguez interviewed during her research on the basis of maintaining their anonymity. I have left them in because they are necessary to tell the story.

By Sophia Rodriguez

Many migrants, especially unaccompanied youth, face uncertain paths in detention and after their release in local communities. Schools are often the first and sometimes the only places they can turn for resources. Research shows that everyday educators have been left to deal with the aftermath of recent political charades, as well as a broken immigration system, racialized immigration surveillance, deplorable detention facility conditions, and lack of access to educational and social resources for these young people.

Newly arriving migrants are an ongoing reality that schools must confront, and they do not have the luxury of playing politics. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently used taxpayer funds to fly approximately 50 Venezuelan migrants, including youth, from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a stunt that does nothing to address the actual shortcoming of immigration policy. While just one example, schools and local communities and schools tend to be necessarily pragmatic actors when faced with the influx of newcomer unaccompanied migrants. Yet, challenges remain in this effort to provide a space to belong.

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