It seems to me that programs specifically for new immigrants can be really helpful for parents and kids. The school system is confusing, particularly for parents new to the country. Starting school in a new language is really tough for kids, so any help with the transition should go a long way. Opponents of the program are worried that it isolates immigrant kids:
For all its benefits, some critics have said the program promotes the isolation of Hispanic children. It causes them to cluster together even before they arrive in kindergarten, and so immigrant youngsters unwittingly hold themselves back, said the Rev. Allan B. Ramirez of the Brookville Reformed Church in Glen Head.
Obviously, it's important for immigrant kids to interact with native speakers - it helps them adjust to the U.S. and learn English faster. But I'm not sure I agree with the argument that promoting group identity among Latino kids is a bad thing. I don't know Long Island, but I imagine that immigrant kids there experience some of the same intolerance and anti-immigrant sentiment I witnessed in Queens. Having friends from the same background helps kids deal with these issues, and I also think that immigrant kids learn faster by comparing things they are learning in the U.S. to what they know from back home.