D.C. area schools scramble to meet the emotional needs of illegal immigrant children

Ripped from distant worlds, most of the new students speak no English, and some are psychologically scarred from abuse by gangs or smugglers. Reunited with parents or other relatives they barely know, and still grieving for family and friends back home, they may feel depressed and resentful.

“Some of these kids arrive feeling very angry,” said Rina Chavez, a counselor with the Montgomery County schools. “After years of living with their grandparents, suddenly here they are with mom and a new stepdad and two younger siblings. Then they are expected in a heartbeat to sit down and learn, but they may not be ready.

“At first, some even refuse to learn English.”