NEW YORK (PIX11) — Immigrant advocates, parents and educators gathered on the steps of Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday, protesting the city’s budget cuts for education.

Mayor Eric Adams planned a 3% budget cut for the Department of Education earlier this year, blaming the increasing costs of the migrant crisis. But the advocates disagree. At the rally, they detailed that the budget cuts would do more harm than good, especially for the immigrant youth, who rely on public schools to restart their lives.

“New York City was already home to 3.1 million immigrants before this new wave of asylum seekers. Yet, our education system has yet to develop all the infrastructure needed to serve all eligible immigrants, said Andrea Ortiz, Senior Manager of Education Policy at New York Immigration Coalition. “City estimates over 14,000 new asylum seeker youth have enrolled in our schools in the past year; the Adams administration is proposing slashing the Education budget again.” 

According to the Adams Administration, as many as 50,000 migrants have been bused to New York from southern states since last spring, which would cost more than $4 billion to the city. Back in February, after releasing the proposed budget, Mayor Adams explained that the cuts for the Department of Education resulted from declining enrollment at public schools and followed the city’s “Program to Eliminate the Gap.” 

Advocates are opposed to the initiative. In fact, they are calling for a $3 million investment to fund six new English Language Learner Transfer School Programs in Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn. They are also asking for money to pay for a new transfer program that would help newly arrived immigrants have access to schools in the outer boroughs.

“New York City has some of the best public schools in the country, but far too many are inaccessible for our immigrant neighbors,” said Immigration Committee Chair, Council Member Shahana Hanif. “Language and transit barriers have long held back immigrant students, but we must change that. 

During the rally, educators and advocates also cited the need for a $4 million investment in outreach, application, and enrollment support for immigrant families of 3 and 4-year-olds through the Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education (LIFE) Project; and a $75 million investment to hire additional social workers in schools to support the needs of newcomer asylum seekers. 

“New York has a responsibility to provide equal access to education for all students, regardless of what language they speak, the amount of support they need to graduate, or their immigration status, said NYC Comptroller Brad Lander. “We cannot afford to exclude an entire generation of young people who are eager to learn and contribute to our city’s shared thriving. I applaud the New York Immigration Coalition’s hard work to fight for an accessible ELL curriculum for all who need it.”  

PIX11 News has contacted the mayor’s office for comment but has not heard back.