Vaccines among migrant children spark controversy in NY public schools

Staten Island's borough president is taking aim the New York Department of Education.  

Vito Fossella says the city's public schools will start the year with thousands newly arrived migrant children, who may be unvaccinated.  

All children must be immunized to attend school in New York Public Schools. But this school year, there's a lot of new students. Over 100,000 migrants from Central and South America, Hati and oversees arrived in the city last spring, bringing with them more than 20,000 children. 

"If you're going to impose a standard on ordinary citizens, then that same standard should be imposed on individuals from 120 different countries and want to show up on day one for school," said Fossella at a news conference Saturday, where a handful of Staten Island leaders and residents stood in front of P.S. 038, arguing that migrant children who can't prove they've been inoculated against diseases like Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis B, Measles and Chickenpox, shouldn't be allowed to start school next week. 

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"Every single day is New York City telling us the elected officials and the community that they're stuck in a difficult situation, they tell the federal government do not bring more migrants," said Michael Tannousis, an NY State Assemblyman. "But what do they do? They make it as easy as possible for migrants to come here and make it as easy as possible for migrants to come into the schools." 

The Department of Education said this week, students in temporary housing do not need to show proof of vaccination but have 30 days to get inoculated. The department is assisting, connecting migrant families with hospitals and deploying mobile clinics.  

"So, we are working aggressively to get students vaccinated in a timely manner," said Melissa Aviles- Ramos, Chief of Staff NYC DOE. 

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Migrant Advocacy group Artists-Athletes-Activists responded to the concern, telling FOX 5, "The anger we're seeing demonstrated against migrants is misdirected energy and the borough president should redirect that energy towards the city instead of adding fuel to the anti-immigrant rhetoric," said Founder Power Malu.  

The department of education is confident it can get all the kids caught up on their scheduled vaccination in 30 days.  

FOX 5 asked the borough president, what's behind the urgency of his concern, especially when he represents a borough where some people were very vocal about pushing back against covid vaccine mandates. 

"If you're going to hold families, citizens of Staten Island and New York City to get vaccinated and if they don't, they can't go to school," Fossella said. 

Then we're just suggesting that the migrant children be held to the same standard. And right now, they're not. They're being treated better and differently than ordinary folks."