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School for Pedro and José
9/16/2014
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Editorial 9/16/2014
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School for Pedro and José
presented by Peter Kohler

There must be many stories about the perilous journeys taken by 2,200 Central American children now attending school on Long Island, part of the influx of unaccompanied minors who illegally entered the U.S. this summer.

Few, we suspect, are more compelling than what Sister Margaret Smyth related to News 12 Long Island last summer about two immigrant sisters who, we learned, have finally reunited with their sons, Pedro Lopez, and José Ramirez. Both boys now attend school in Riverhead.

Smyth says Gladys Ramirez is a victim of domestic violence, who was forced to flee El Salvador, leaving José behind.

“She had to flee to come here herself,” Smyth said. “And her son was left behind and he had nobody to stay with.”

The fate of Pedro and José is not only tied up in unresolved issues of immigration reform still languishing in Congress, but they and children like them also need lawyers to guide them through an immigration process that could lead to deportation.

And while Long Island school districts deserve more state and federal aid to help educate these children, they also require the assistance of more groups like Smyth’s North Fork Spanish Apostolate, which is assisting 100 of these children with homework and English language tutoring and also helping them find lawyers.

Thanks to volunteers and Long Island school districts, kids like Pedro and José are getting the help they need to learn a new language, and to cope not only with the precarious journeys from places they left behind, but in navigating the equally precarious immigration process that lies ahead.

Janet Vuturo
Patchogue, NY
Listening to the editorial this morning, I was in disbelief. While this country is made up of immigrants, people entering this country illegally put a burden on all of us who are working and paying taxes. School costs money. Hiring extra teachers to teach English before anything else costs money. Housing, food, medical care all cost money. Where is that money coming from? From all of us who get up every day and go to work. Their parents are here illegally working and not paying into the tax system. This is not sustainable. Illegals should be given a meal, put a band aid on their wounds and sent them home. Their governments need to take care of them, or they need to come here legally and pay taxes. I could go on and on but bottom line, that editorial was ridiculous.

Carl L. Todd
Glen Cove, NY
Remember, every one of us has an ancestor who came here legally or jumped ship to start a new life free from the tyrannies of the country they fled from.

G. Dwyer
Miller Place, NY
Cablevision, enough. Our schools and communities on Long Island are becoming Third World havens. For every compassionate immigrant story you run there could be 20 more stories on what this influx is doing to our families and economies. The war on drugs is now forgotten, Latin gangs are using these children to smuggle in heroin and other drugs; once across our border they’re given refugee status and are almost guaranteed citizenship. Of course their families will be invited here to take care of them and yes they all have horror stories. These kids are entering our school systems with little or no education. Schools now have to meet federal and state mandates on educating them. We the citizen taxpayers are hemorrhaging money—sales tax, property tax, income taxes, health care. Let’s start looking at the hard reality of what compassion is costing us and how we are going to pay for it. Even if we reform our policies today it will take years and cost billions to integrate these people into our society. In the late ninetieth and twentieth centuries our government realized the need for controlling and documenting immigration. Less than 14 years after 9/11 did we just forget?

Contact the North Fork Spanish Apostolate

North Fork Spanish Apostolate
220 Roanoke Avenue
Riverhead, NY 11901

Telephone: (631) 369-4601

Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm

VOLUNTEERS welcome, Spanish needed for assisting clients; no language requirement for teaching.


Aug 17, 2007
Why educate children of illegal immigrants? How could you not? The Supreme Court gave the last word on this question in 1982, when it ruled that public schools could not bar access to students on the “basis of their legal status.” So it’s not just the law, but it’s good common sense to make sure that immigrant children living on Long Island will be educated in our public schools…