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Jonatan’s Story

Seventeen-year-old Jonatan is an immigrant student from Guatemala. He came to the U.S. on his own due to dire poverty in his home country and now lives doubled-up with his older brother, Gerber, in Brooklyn.

Shortly before school started in September, a social worker at the Legal Aid Society referred the brothers to AFC’s Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for help enrolling Jonatan in high school, as he was interested in finishing his education but had not attended since arriving in New York City in late 2015. An AFC attorney quickly took the case, accompanying Jonatan and Gerber to one of the Department of Education (DOE)’s temporary enrollment centers to ensure the registration process went smoothly, as unaccompanied youth are often turned away because of lack of documents or are sent to schools that cannot meet their needs.

After obtaining a referral for a school that would be appropriate for Jonatanone of the Internationals high schools, which specialize in serving recently arrived immigrant youthAFC and the brothers met with the principal and admissions coordinator that day to finalize his enrollment in ninth grade. Jonatan was understandably apprehensive about starting school in a new country, but he has a great advocate in his older brother, who pushed him to focus on his studies and the goal of graduating high school. We’re happy to report that, with Gerber’s support, Jonatan has had a great start to the year!