As Mexican Families Return Home, US-Educated Kids Struggle to Adapt

Lourdes Medrano, Christian Science Monitor, April 23, 2013

Sitting in his first-grade classroom, Iván Leonel Burruel listens intently as his teacher enunciates distinctly each word she writes on the whiteboard. He knows English grammar from his time living in the United States, but now he works hard to master his lessons in Spanish.

Leonel, as he likes to be called, lived in Arizona almost his entire life, but his family is back in Mexico now after his father lost his job. The boy is adjusting to a new way of learning here in the capital of Sonora state in northern Mexico, where familiar US school fixtures like cafeterias or school buses are rare.

Arriving in an unparalleled migration exodus from the US to Mexico, students like Leonel are changing the country’s classrooms and posing new challenges to an education system that experts say is ill equipped to integrate children accustomed to US schools.


Throughout Mexico, US-born children–and kids born in Mexico but raised north of the border–face multiple barriers to school enrollment and, once in the classroom, many struggle in their new environment. Not only must they deal with different teaching methods that turn the US model of learning on its head, but they also confront a language barrier and cultural divide.

With an eye toward improving academic success and matriculation in Mexico, scholars in Sonora, aided by academic researchers on both sides of the border, recently launched a three-year study on the challenges these youngsters face in the country of their parents.

About 300,000 of the 1.4 million people who returned to Mexico between 2005 and 2010 were US-born children. Their families were either deported or left the country voluntarily after facing job losses and tough immigration laws, according to the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C.


Schools across Mexico, including those in Sonora, also have incorporated into the curriculum textbooks that teach about the migrant experience.

Teachers and administrators can attend workshops, seminars, and training courses on multicultural classrooms, although not everyone is eager to participate, says Jesús Eduardo Ramírez Cordoba, who heads international affairs for the SEC, a position created recently, in part to handle transnational educational affairs. The state entity oversees schools in Sonora.

“Some view it as an additional burden,” Mr. Ramírez says.


The hope is that emerging programs will serve to teach tolerance and respect for diversity, says Mr. Gil from the SEC. Difficulties for these students spill out of the classroom, he adds.


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  • Flaxen-headed Strumpet

    The publik schools in the US suck as well as the publik schools in Mexico. i don’t see what all of the hand-wringing is about.

    • The__Bobster

      We pay more per pupil for education than any other major country in the world, yet these exports are struggling in third world schools?

  • joegoofinoff

    Yep, the “spanish” they learn here is known as “spanglish.” A bastardiztion of all sorts of dialects combined. So they would have a tough time.

    • jay11

      I teach all different types of ‘latinos.’ Some groups literally cannot understand each other when they are all supposed to be speaking Spanish. Dominican Spanish is like ghetto English. Most of my students ape ghetto English and listen to rap.

    • Who Me?

      “Spanglish” is to the Spanish spoken in Spain, as “Ebonics” is to the English spoken in England.

    • JDInSanDiego

      Two Mexicans in two separate conversations have told me we should speak spanglish. I told them that people come here from all over the world and expect to communicate in standard English and that while Spanish has been bastardized all over the America’s it would make sense if Spanish speakers could rely on a universal standard. I asked why they would support the bastardization of either language. No answer.

  • Bill

    Seems a simple solution to me. Keep them IN Mexico to begin with. “Do it for the children”. But by NO means let’s use this as another excuse to amnesty any of them. I don’t care if they were born here, came here with their parents, or hatched out of a pinata. Send them ALL back to Mexico. With their parents. We wouldn’t want to separate parents from kids right? Again, “do it for the children”. OUR children.

  • roger

    life’s tough, especially if your parents are law breakers……….

    welcome to karma

  • ¡Que Lastima! ¿Ivánito tiene problemas in las escuelas en Mexico?
    Boo hoo! I don’t give a flying rat’s.. nevermind.

  • jay11

    “Not only must they deal with different teaching methods that turn the US model of learning on its head,”

    That’s an understatement. In their countries there is a lot of rote memorization, lecture and the yeachers can hit the students if they’re bad. Here we have pretend learning called ‘project-based learning’ and ‘student-centered’ nonsense where we worry about feelings and self-esteem. “Don’t worry if the answer is wrong, Jose. There’s lots of different ways to work on a math problem. If you don’t get the answer you need, at least you tried a lot of different formulas! Now let’s do a problem that involved the flag and culture of your parents’ home country, shall we?”
    Sadly, this scenario is NOT made up. I saw it in action once, and see similar things all the darn time.

  • The__Bobster

    Arriving in an unparalleled migration exodus from the US to Mexico


    Unparalleled? Really? There were at least two mass deportations in the last century. Too bad we haven’t had one since 1953.

    • Bill

      And THAT one was named “Operation Wetback”. By the government, no less. NOW we have government prosecuting anybody who uses the term government itself once used, while giving amnesty to law breakers. That’s how far we have come down the road to complete insanity.

  • Secret Tribunal

    We are supposed to worry about the struggles of all non whites.

  • sbuffalonative

    Yet another ‘pity the poor immigrant’ story (but with a twist).
    I swear reporters must be issued a template for these articles.
    These kids and parents should be demanding Mexico teach these kids in their native language and let’s see what happens.

    • The Final Solution

      The liberal democrats are America’s equivalent to the Jews of Nazi Germany. They control all the media, banks, universities, etc. All we need is a great leader to unite us against them.

  • bigone4u

    To be frank, I don’t have the time to be concerned in any way with Mexican schoolchildren in Mexico. I’m too busy worrying about whether Mexican students in the USA are going to steal the wheels off my car, beat me up, or worse. If all of them were back in Mexico, my life would be just that much more worry free.

  • Cry me a river. They never should have been in the US to begin with.

    • Ngati Pakeha

      I think a lot of that article is rubbish anyway. They will get back into the US if they want to. It’s not as if there is anything impeding them.

  • brengunn

    Difficulties for these students spill out of the classroom, he adds.

    What exactly does this mean? Are they saying that native born Mexicans don’t like Mexicans returning from the States. That they are prejudiced against them?

    • Yes, because many of kids that return from the US speak English as their first language and do not know Spanish very well except to communicate with their parents, who may not even read or write in Spanish.

  • Greg Thomas

    They “struggled” in this country as well, bringing everyone down with them. Let them struggle in mexico, their place of citizenship.

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    From the original article: “Leonel was just 10 months old when his mother crossed the border on a visitor visa with her two children to join her husband, who had moved two years earlier. The visa didn’t allow for a permanent stay in the country, but the family settled down anyway in the Phoenix area, where Leonel and his older sister, Beatriz, grew up.”

    This is just one more reason to begin carefully scrutinizing every single visa holder of any kind. Many of them simply never leave. If we were a country of laws, we would already be doing that.

    • Isn’t there a way to determine whether people on tourist visas actually leave when they are supposed to? I often wondered about that.

      • GeneticsareDestiny

        We don’t currently track whether visitors on visas leave. It would be easy to do, but we don’t do it, because it would cut off a major stream of illegal immigration, which is exactly what the current administration doesn’t want.

      • Xanthippe2

        Well, plenty of countries with fewer resourses than the U.S. manage to do it…

    • MBlanc46

      “But they settled down anyway”. Bugger the rules. Rules are for civilized people.

      • GeneticsareDestiny

        Yeah, that sentence really irritates me. The author of the article is obviously trying to skim over the fact that they’re illegal aliens and is using every liberal journalist trick in the book to obfuscate that fact.

        It also just shows such a deep contempt for the laws and the people of the United States. They’re so self-absorbed that they honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking the law to get here.

        And we’re supposed to feel bad for these people.

        • MBlanc46

          “And we’re supposed to feel bad for these people.” I think that’s the intent of the article, all right, to work up sympathy for these poor, oppressed immigrants. See how bad it is for them when they have to go back to Mexico?

        • Anon12

          I never have felt sorry for any of these people, legal or illegal….every nonwhite race has such sob stories and one can tell they are a bunch of lies. Only the gullible, guilt ridden Whites fall that one. Their misplaced altruism leaves me ill. They most of all, are the reason we have missionaries, etc. going into the 3rd world to being back all these “poor misguided 3rd worlders”. These people are sick in the head and always will be.

  • a multiracial individual

    In California, children will one day be required to learn Spanish. What will be their explanation as to why gringos and chinos do better in Spanish class than Hispanics?

    • Jefferson

      Their explanation will be racism of course.

  • The Final Solution

    I was hoping AmRen would pick up the story I saw today:

    “20,000 students who need to learn English sue California educators”

    You can’t even write fiction this good. Things are gonna come to a boil long before 2043.

    • bigone4u

      Too bad the story didn’t have much detail. Some of the students are probably new legal immigrants from Asia and Africa, but most are probably Mexican.

  • Michael_C_Scott

    Who is anyone kidding? The greasers are going to drop out of school to work as cartel gunmen and the greaseritas are going to be pregnant by age 13. What are they going to do when white America collectively decides we don’t give a rip so long as they aren’t here?

  • Ngati Pakeha

    “Some view it as an additional burden,” Mr. Ramírez says

    Priceless I say. Imagine that – Mexico has to cope with a handful of people they are “not equipped to deal with”. The article says 1.4 million returned? Utter rubbish! They have forgotten the 95% who have crept back over the fence.

    • evilsandmich

      I’d put it closer to 115%

  • NeoconsNailed

    This can’t be happening. They came here to become great, loyal Americans — not to cannibalize us while the cannibalizing was good. They came here to work hard, pledge to the flag, vote, pay taxes, and save us from our white-bread selves. They love us — they wouldn’t leave us!

    Logically, you see, this report is an impossibility!

  • Jennifer

    Oh Boo Frickin Hoo!

  • Sherman_McCoy

    This is a truly sad story about what happens when the children of illegals are forced by their squat parents to live temporarily in the US. For shame!!! Had they stayed where they belonged, such sad stories would never happen.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    Oh little Ivan Leonal will be just fine if he survives the Narco-regime! Heck, with a little experience in still-more-civilized-than-Mexico Gringolandia, perhaps if little Ivan Leonal were forced to remain in Mexico…

    One day he might grow up to fight to clean up his country and make it more like Gringolandia.

    But Liblefty pols supported by big business/cheap labor Libertaritards seem more keen on making Gringolandia Mexico!

  • ViktorNN

    “Teachers and administrators can attend workshops, seminars, and training courses on multicultural classrooms, although not everyone is eager to participate…”

    Not even Mexicans want to teach Mexicans. This really says it all about the prevailing attitude towards education in that miserable country.

  • Alexandra

    Who’s seen that Selena movie? There’s this one part where her father says “We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans all at the same time–and it’s exhausting!”
    What does that tell you?

  • evilsandmich

    Just a hunch, but I’d guess that he doesn’t know all that much about English or Spanish.

  • Erasmus

    I am sick of hearing about how hard it is for the children of illegal aliens from Mexico to readjust to school back in their country.
    How about stories of what will happen to this country’s educational system when it’s flooded by the many children of this invading horde? How about some compassion for the American taxpayer for once?

  • HamletsGhost

    ‘“Some view it as an additional burden,” Mr. Ramírez says.’

    You don’t say! Some gringos view it as a burden too, Senor Ramirez.

  • Rapacious whitey

    Mexicans have a god given right to take over the southwestern US. After all, these parts of the US rightfully belonged to Mexico until the rapacious whitey up north invaded their lands.