THE GREAT DIVIDE: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ON ONE DAY : TEACHER

NAME: Nicolas Kolesnikow

AGE: 52

WORK: Coordinates English classes at Huntington Park High School. Speaks four languages.

HOME: Westchester

IMMIGRATION STATUS: Legal resident. Born in Russia, immigrated 14 years ago.

"Some of the students who come to us are at grade level, some are preliterate. A handful don't know the alphabet or can't identify letters. The majority are from Mexico. A large number are undocumented, but I don't think this concerns them right now.

"At school we are in a 'don't ask' situation with students (regarding legal status). We require them to show proof of age . . . It doesn't make any difference to us whether they are legal or illegal.

"I don't see many teachers resenting illegal immigration. We have a few teachers who resent the fact that students speak a different language. But if we didn't have these students, who would we have? There would be fewer students and (fewer) teachers.

"Personally, I look at the big picture. Mexico is our neighbor and we can't cut ourselves off from the them. (Education) is like a form of mutual aid."

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