Fact Check: Francis Suarez – Miami mayor is right: Miami-Dade public schools have seen sharp increase in new immigrant students
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is eyeing a 2024 presidential run. In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the Republican talked at length about Florida’s newest immigration policies and how immigration is affecting his city.
Suarez cast doubt on the effect Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new policies will have in places like Miami. But the uptick in immigration across the country is directly affecting Miami-Dade County Public Schools, he said during the May 21 show.
“Just last year in our public school system, we had over 14,000 new children, 10,000 of which came from four countries of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti,” Suarez said May 21.
Suarez didn’t clarify what he meant by “last year,” or whether he was referring to the total number of new students in the county, or only the number of new foreign students.
However, PolitiFact took a look at Miami-Dade County Public Schools data and found Suarez is right that there has been an increase in the number of new students from those four countries who have enrolled in the school district.
There’s been an uptick in number of immigrant students in Miami-Dade this school year
The number of new students from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela in Miami-Dade Public Schools who have enrolled in the 2022-23 school year is nearly double that of 2021-22, according to data the school district sent to PolitiFact.
Miami-Dade Public Schools records data by its fiscal year, starting in July and ending in June.
Suarez’s team did not clarify what year he was referring to when he said “just last year” on CBS, but it pointed PolitiFact to a Miami Herald article from January that relied on 2022-23 school year data discussed during a Jan. 18 school board meeting.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Jose L. Dotres at the time shared numbers showing that nearly 10,000 new students from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela had enrolled in the county since July 2022. As of May 9, that number is closer to 14,000. Last school year, the total was nearly 7,500.
During his interview, Suarez didn’t clarify whether he was referring to all newly enrolled students in Miami-Dade or only newly enrolled immigrant students. Miami-Dade Public Schools defines immigrant students as students who weren’t born in the U.S. and have not attended a U.S. school for more than three school years.
Out of about 30,000 total new students in 2022-23, 20,000 of them were newly enrolled immigrant students.
In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot deny access to public education to any children, regardless of their immigration status. And children who are in the U.S. illegally are still required to go to school until they reach a certain age determined by each state.
In a CBS interview, Suarez said, “Just last year in our public school system, we had over 14,000 new children, 10,000 of which came from four countries of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti.”
Those numbers appeared to have come from 2022-23 data shared in January by the district’s superintendent.
And the figures have since grown. Updated numbers for the 2022-23 school year through May 9 show the number of immigrant students from those four countries is now closer to 14,000. And out of all 30,000 newly enrolled students, 20,000 are immigrant students.
We rate this claim True.