Schools nationwide have been experiencing an influx of students due to the record number of immigrant crossings at the U.S. southern border, and it appears Alabama is no exception.

For the past two years, a school report card with federal and state data, such as migrant student percentages and limited English proficiency, has been made available to the public.

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) told 1819 News it has responded to those increased numbers.

Several of the Biden administration's policies allow immigrants to come to the United States legally. Some seek asylum from their own countries, and others want to find work. Meanwhile, their children are put into public schools, impacting resources for students and teachers.

The school report card showed that percentages have increased over the past three years. However, the actual numbers of migrant students are likely much higher than reported due to federal privacy laws.

To allow all children in the United States access to public education, school districts are prohibited from asking about a parent or child's citizenship or immigration status to establish residency within a district, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Additionally, the United States Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division reported that many migrant students lack legal immigration status, and schools may not request that information or refuse their right to an education.

For the year 2022–2023, the ALSDE report card showed that 0.22% of students in Alabama were migrants, and 5.68% had limited English proficiency. Those percentages were compared to 0.16% and 4.60%, respectively, for the 2020–2021 school year.

Public schools must offer language assistance services to enable them to participate in class fully. The schools also translate all information on programs, classes or activities.

Increased student numbers mean more resources are needed, and some districts are already spread too thin.

Language barriers can pose more challenges to educators and students and have created a growing need for bilingual educators, with Spanish being the most common primary language of students with limited proficiency. The ALSDE told 1819 News there has also been a need for specialized professional development for teachers and administrators.

"For the academic year 2023-24, the ALSDE has employed two additional regional specialists to provide more support in the districts," said ALSDE communications director Michael Sibley. "Furthermore, the districts have also hired paraprofessionals and EL (English Language) teachers to assist their growing population of newcomers.

"The ALSDE is currently implementing the High-Quality Instruction and Assessment Modules through Cohort 1 & 2, which covers a total of 44 schools across the state," he continued. "The state is providing resources for EL Platform, interpretation and translation services, and access to multiple professional development opportunities."

Other resources strained with more students include classroom space, bus routes, staff and faculty.

While schools are seeing the impact of the increase in students, Biden's border policy has also put children of immigrant families in a difficult position, according to immigration officials who spoke to 1819 News about things they are seeing in Alabama. While parents are awaiting their court dates, children are moved around from school to school and are unable to obtain proper assessments and education.

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