Children Living with One or More Foreign-Born Parent (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
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Learn More About Immigrants

Measures of Immigrants on Kidsdata.org

On kidsdata.org, measures related to immigrant populations include the following 1-, 3-, and 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey:

  • Percentage of children living in "linguistically isolated" households (i.e., children in households without someone over 13 who speaks English "Very Well")
  • Percentage of children ages 0-17 living with one or more foreign-born parents
  • Percentage of the population that is foreign-born, by age group
Immigrants
Bullying and Harassment at School
Demographics
Family Structure
English Learners
Why This Topic Is Important
Children in immigrant families, including children who are foreign born or who live with at least one foreign-born parent, represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. child population (1). In 2012, this group accounted for 25% of all children in the United States (2). This population is particularly large in California, where the proportion of foreign-born residents is the highest in the country (2, 3).

Children in immigrant families are more likely than other children to have household incomes below the Federal Poverty Level, to have parents with low educational attainment, to live in language-isolated households, and to be in fair or poor physical health (1). It is therefore important for schools, health care systems, government and nonprofit organizations to address the needs of these children, and work to eliminate barriers to service. Also, foreign-born women tend to have a higher fertility rate than women born in the U.S., making increases in this population especially germane to providers of perinatal service and services to young children (4).

It should be noted that today’s immigrant children vary more by national origin and socioeconomic status than in previous years (5). The educational and health status of this population varies widely depending on many factors, such as the country of origin and length of time in the U.S. (6, 7).

For more information on this topic please see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Sources cited for this narrative:

1.  Child Trends. (2013). Immigrant children. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=immigrant-children

2.  As cited on kidsdata.org, Children Living with One or More Foreign-Born Parent (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More). (2014). American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from: http://factfinder2.census.gov/

3.  Migration Policy Institute. (2012). California: Social and demographic characteristics. MPI data hub: Migration facts, stats, and maps. Retrieved from: http://www.migrationinformation.org/datahub/acscensus.cfm#

4.  Grieco, E., et al. (2012). The foreign-born population in the United States: 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Reports (ACS-19). Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acs-19.pdf

5.  Tienda, M., & Haskins, R. (2011). Immigrant children: Introducing the issue. The Future of Children Journal, 21(1), 3-18. Retrieved from: http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=74

6.  Baum, S., & Flores, S. M. (2011). Higher education and children in immigrant families. The Future of Children Journal, 21(1), 171-193. Retrieved from: http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=74

7.  Burd-Sharps, S., & Lewis, K. (2011). A portrait of California: California Human Development Report 2011. The Measure of America Series, American Human Development Project of the Social Science Research Council. Retrieved from: http://www.measureofamerica.org/california/

How Children Are Faring
According to 2012 estimates, 50% of California children ages 0-17 live with one or more foreign-born parents. This percentage has been relatively steady since 2007, though figures vary widely among California counties. For example, an estimated 63% of children in Santa Clara County had foreign-born parents, compared to 10% in Shasta County in 2010-2012.

In 2012, an estimated 12% of California children lived in "linguistically isolated" households, households without someone over 13 who speaks English "Very Well." This figure has decreased slightly in recent years, from 15% in 2007. Linguistic isolation varies greatly at the county level, from 2% to 26% in 2012.

An estimated 7% of California children ages 5-17 were born outside the U.S. in 2012. The figure is lower for young children ages 0-4 (2%). Among adults, the foreign-born estimate was 17% for ages 18-24 and 38% for ages 25-64. Between 2007 and 2012, the statewide percentage of immigrant children and youth ages 0-24 declined slightly, figures for adults ages 25 to 64 remained fairly steady, and figures for Californians ages 65 and over increased slightly.
Policy Implications

Children of immigrants are more likely to be low-income than children of native-born parents (1). Immigrant children, particularly those in low-income households, often confront hardships in accessing health care, safety-net public benefits, and quality education (2, 3, 4). In 2013, California passed immigration reform to target these disparities in immigrant families, supporting better outcomes for children (5). California offers some benefits to undocumented immigrant children that would not be available under federal law, including Medi-Cal, post-secondary financial aid, and domestic worker protections for their parents (5, 6). However, enforcement of other immigration regulations can have a negative effect on children. For example, the deportation of a parent or legal caregiver can cause family instability and economic hardship, and can exacerbate mental health problems (7, 8). New considerations of parental rights will ensure the unnecessary disruption of those rights and encourage parental stability for children (9). Additionally, the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been viewed as important temporary relief from deportation, expanding the socioeconomic mobility and trajectories for these DACA-eligible youth (10).

According to research and subject experts, policies that could influence the well being of immigrant children include:

  • Ensuring that federal immigration reform is comprehensive and includes more efficient pathways to citizenship and other legal statutes to promote family unity, such as providing basic support and child welfare services to immigrant children (2, 3, 7)
  • Targeting children in low-income, immigrant families for quality pre-kindergarten education and Medi-Cal/health care eligibility (3, 4, 11)
  • Ensuring linguistically and culturally appropriate health care for immigrant families (11)
  • Addressing the needs of English language learners in public schools including improving language instruction for school-age children (3, 4)
  • Addressing the DACA implementation strategies to close the gender and nationality disparities in application admissions and denials (10).

For more policy ideas and research on this topic see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or visit the Urban Institute or the National Immigration Law Center. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under English Learners and College Eligibility.

Sources for this narrative:

1. Chaudry, A., & Fortuny, K. (2010). Children of immigrants: Economic well-being. Urban Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412270-children-of-immigrants-economic.pdf

2. Hinojosa-Ojeda, R. (2010). Raising the floor for American workers: The economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. Center for American Progress and Immigration Policy Center. Retrieved from: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/01/raising_the_floor.html

3. Hernandez, D. J., & Cervantes, W. (2011). Children in immigrant families: Ensuring opportunity for every child in America. Foundation for Child Development & First Focus. Retrieved from: http://www.fcd-us.org/resources/children-immigrant-families-ensuring-opportunity-every-child-america

4. Haskins, R., & Tienda, M. (2011). The future of immigrant children. The Future of Children, Princeton-Brookings. Retrieved from: http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/docs/21_01_PolicyBrief.pdf

5. Morse, A., et al. (2013). 2013 immigration report. National Conference of State Legislatures: Immigrant Policy Project. Retrieved from: http://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/immig/2013ImmigrationReport_Jan21.pdf

6. California Student Aid Commission. (n.d.). California Dream Act. Retrieved from: http://www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp

7. Cervantes, W., Lincroft, Y. (2010). The impact of immigration enforcement on child welfare. First Focus. Retrieved from: http://www.firstfocus.net/sites/default/files/r.2010-4.7.cervantes.pdf

8. Enchautegui, M. E. (2013). Broken immigration policy: Broken families. The Urban Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412806-Broken-Immigration-Policy-Broken-Families.pdf

9. U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (2013). Facilitating parental interests in the course of civil immigration enforcement activities. Retrieved from: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/detention-reform/pdf/parental_interest_directive_signed.pdf

10. Wong, T. K., et al. (2013). Undocumented no more: A nationwide analysis of deferred action for childhood arrivals, or DACA. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from: http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/DACAReportCC-2-1.pdf

11. Ku, L., & Jewers, M. (2013). Health care reform for immigrant families: Current policies and issues. National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/health-care-immigrant-families-current-policies-and-issues

Websites with Related Information
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County/Regional Reports