Illegal Immigration Puts Pressure on Southern Schools

Washington Date Line

At Marumsco Hills Elementary School near Occoquan, principal Joanne Alvey doesn’t need a study to tell her that Virginia’s immigrant population more than doubled in the 1990s and is exploding.

She looks out the school’s front door at the neighborhood of typical suburban homes built in the 1960s and 1970s. Investors often buy them and rent them to three families of [illegal] immigrants where one Anglo family used to live, she said.

“I live close to here so I am in the middle of the revolution,” said Alvey, whose school averages an additional 20 students with limited English proficiency each year. A little more than a decade ago, immigrants were hardly a factor at Marumsco, she said. Now nearly two out of three of the school’s 450 students need language help.

“It’s a revolving door,” she said. “Some leave and more come in. We get a lot of brand new kids throughout the year. We get kids who have never seen their names in print, never seen letters and numbers, never held a crayon.”

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