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New York City Public Schools sheds light on how it will handle influx of asylum seeker children

Asylum seeker crisis sparks dueling calls for action
Asylum seeker crisis sparks dueling calls for action 02:11

NEW YORK -- There were dueling calls for action Tuesday to deal with the thousands of asylum seekers who continue to arrive in the city, including many families with kids.

CBS New York has learned more about the proposals to help mitigate the crisis and how the school system will deal with the increase of new students.

New York Republicans have been demanding Gov. Kathy Hochul call a special session to address the more than 100,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in the city since last year.

"This is taxing our social services. It is taxing our law enforcement, and it's certainly citizens taxing our citizens in our communities," Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said.

READ MOREFamilies living in New York City shelters being relocated to make room for incoming asylum seekers

Barclay wants accountability on how federal funds are used, the state's right-to-shelter law redefined, and a mandatory registry for all asylum seekers receiving state services.

With school in the city starting on Thursday, Schools Chancellor David Banks said the district has enrolled 1,000 additional students this summer and 20,000 since last summer. However, since he says the pandemic saw 120,000 school kids move away, the numbers aren't the concern.

"The problem that we have is that because of where they are in these temporary shelters, they're limited to the number of schools that we're really able to send them (to). So some schools have seen a little bit more overcrowding," Banks said.

READ MOREStaten Island borough president concerned some children of asylum seekers may not be vaccinated in time for new school year

Children of asylum seekers have 30 days to undergo a physical and be vaccinated, or, at minimum, have scheduled an appointment to be vaccinated. But unlike every other public school student, they will be allowed to start school unvaccinated.

"We get them in on day one, but we work with them and their families very quickly to get the vaccinations. Oftentimes, it's done within days, if not not weeks," Banks said.

READ MORENew York City school bus driver strike averted for first 2 days of new year, but deal not imminent

Immigration rights advocates on Tuesday called for more transparency from the Department of Education about how students will be supported more, and more investment in the youngest asylum seekers.

"Even before asylum seekers started arriving last year, 1 in 2 students in the New York City Public School system was the child of an immigrant family. These students are the future of the New York City education system and it's critical that we support them," said Liza Schwartzwald, of the NYC Immigration Coalition.

Banks said the city currently has 3,400 ESL teachers and 1,700 bilingual educators, adding that the number may increase at schools closest to relief shelters.

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