How far will you go to attend a U.S. school?

U.S.-Mexico border map. Photo from

Hundreds of students cross the U.S.-Mexico border daily to attend schools in California, Arizona and other bordering states, according to the New York Times.

According to the article, these children, most of whom are American citizens who have moved back to border towns in Mexico, cross the border daily in order to get a better education.  They wake up before the sun rises at 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. to travel from towns like Tijuana (T.J.) to the border by bus or car . Then they wait with 16,000 or so other individuals waiting to travel across the border by foot.  Finally, they wait for another bus to bring them to school.  By the time they arrive to school at 8 a.m., they are exhausted.

Some of the children’s parents pay the tuition rate for living outside the district. But, most of the parents do not.  Instead, they pay taxes from their paychecks (because they work in the U.S.) or help pay the pay bills or mortgages on friends houses to establish residency so their children can attend an American school.  However, they do not contribute to the property taxes, which supports public services, like schools.

And in a time when immigration and the status of migrant workers and undocumented immigrants is being severely contested, the fact that these children cross the border to attend school in the states worries many.

These children, called “transfronterizos,” “migrate between two cultures, two languages and two nations every day, straining the resources of public school districts and sparking debate among educators and sociologists over whether it is in American interests that they be taught in the U.S.”

I believe it is in the interest of America to teach these children.  These children are the future, and they deserve the best.  Most of these children are American citizens, so we cannot and should not turn our back on them.  And even if they are not American citizens, why should we deny them the right to a better education (if they are willing to contribute)?  I understand it strains our resources, but I feel the end results should justify the means.   By enabling these students to prosper, we are helping to fuel the next generation with bright young people.  These people will, in return, make our society a better place.

Furthermore, these children cannot help where their parents choose to live, especially since living in America is expensive.  But they can help where their children go to school.  Most migrant workers/ undocumented immigrants are law abiding citizens who want nothing more than to better the lives of their children.  These parents contribute to the American economy in so many ways, like doing labor that Americans are “too good” for and/or paying appropriate taxes. We should not let these children suffer over the technicality that their parents are not citizens or do not live in the district.

Now I am not advocating that all children in Mexico cross the border to go to American schools. And I am not saying that all undocumented immigrants living in America should be able to stay (but I do feel some- who are law abiding citizens- should be able to).  However, I am saying that these children are our future.  They have all the potential in the world.  We just need to give them the opportunity to use it.


To hear first hand accounts posted by Arizona Public Media click here.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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