New York City

City Council examines how to help migrant students in hearing

The Immigration and Education committees will review the impacts of shelter limits and other issues.

New York City Council Immigration Committee Chair Shahana Hanif is co-leading a hearing on migrant students in city schools.

New York City Council Immigration Committee Chair Shahana Hanif is co-leading a hearing on migrant students in city schools. John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

New York City’s new policy imposing a 60-day limit for migrant families staying in Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will come under scrutiny on Wednesday during a City Council joint oversight hearing held by the Immigration and Education committees.

The policy – which involves the city notifying many migrant families that they have 60 days to leave the shelter system or reapply for a new placement – has caused concerns about the potential ramifications on an already vulnerable population of students. While New York City Mayor Eric Adams has insisted that no child’s education will be interrupted as no child will be forced to transfer schools, advocates said the new shelter limits will force families to make difficult decisions about whether to keep their child at their current school despite facing what could be a much longer commute from their new shelter placement.

“The call for a sanctuary city is to make sure that we provide stability. This is the opposite of stability. This is creating more chaos and instability,” New York City Council Immigration Committee Chair Shahana Hanif said. While she’d prefer to see a full reversal of the 60-day rule, she said she hopes city officials will listen to council members and not further expand the rules to migrant families staying in shelters overseen by the Department of Homeless Services.

“If they don’t want to disrupt the lives of these children, we can’t up and move them in the middle of a school year. We have to think of the whole child when we make these decisions,” City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph said of the 60-day policy. “We have to think how we move them responsibly and how we maintain those relationships that they are building.”

Council members will also be seeking information about other issues for migrant students, including how students staying at the newly opened Floyd Bennett Field shelter will get to school given its isolated location, as well as chronic absenteeism – an issue that’s been exacerbated by the long commutes students already face. Bilingual educator recruitment and retention and the Education Department’s plan to effectively inform migrant parents about things like child labor laws are also members’ radar.

Still, council members are already bracing for unanswered questions. While officials from the Education Department will be at the hearing, none of the other city agencies involved in delivering services to migrant students like the Department of Homeless Services and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will be attending, according to Hanif and Joseph.