HOUSTON—Carolina Osorio and her three children recently arrived in Houston from Honduras with her three children. The young mother was surprised to learn that the U.S. government requires her children to be enrolled in school.
They will attend Las Americas Newcomer School on Bellaire in southwest Houston.
“I pretty much enroll students every single day,” said Principal Marie D. Moreno. “We don’t turn any students away.”
Moreno said she started to see more Latin American immigrants long before the issue recently made headlines.
“We saw an influx as early as a year-and-a-half ago, specifically from Central America,” Moreno said.
Over 30 different countries are represented by the students at Las Americas. In recent years, most have been Hispanic, according to Moreno.
Immigrant children receive medical, clothing and other basic needs for free but Osorio said she and her children are not freeloaders.
“We’re not coming here as violators,” she said through a translator. “We are coming here to work and seeking better opportunities.”
“They want to succeed in life. They want a better life than what they had in their home life,” Moreno said. “For many of them, it’s just short-term assistance, as opposed to families that request assistance year after year and they don’t seem to want to give those benefits up.”
Las Americas enrolls students in 4th through 8th grades. After that, if they are not ready for a regular high school they can attend Liberty High in southwest Houston on the Southwest Freeway near Hillcroft.
“This is the country with big opportunities and this is the dream. This is the dream for everybody,” said Liberty High student Kenet Ramirez.
Moreno said she tells critics education is the best thing to give immigrant children because many times she has seen them pay it back in very productive ways.