The numbers of im/migrant children in schools have increased throughout the world. The principal receiving areas are North America, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, Asia and the Pacific, and the Southern Cone of South America. In the United States, one out of every four children younger than the age of 8 lives in a family where at least one parent is an immigrant.
Not all children of im/migrant families, however, receive the same treatment. Divergent paths of mobility have been explained by segmented assimilation theory. The theory suggests that persistent ethnic differences across generations have challenged traditional assimilation theory, which argued for the eventual integration of im/migrants to mainstream. A group’s premigration status, including class, parental educational levels, income, and the structural and sociocultural features of the contexts of reception, account for the type of mobility pathways children are afforded.
The vulnerability of the children of im/migrants is not typically considered when their potential contribution to social security is taken into account. Public discourses about immigration take on a different character when children in immigrant families’ needs are mapped against the aging populations of traditional superpowers. For example, in the United States, the implication is that immigrants will help to pay for the mounting social security of a population ready to retire.
The second generation has been known as the one that maximizes the opportunities afforded in the new land. Their families’ “culture of optimism” and “ideologies of opportunity” may serve as buffers or protective factors. On the other hand, later generations are not expected to do as well; their achievement scores and health indicators are projected to fall to the level of their co-ethnic groups.
The recent migration of Latino families to the United States has resulted in increased enrollment of Latino children in American schools. Children must grapple with academic pressures while experiencing a variety of acculturation stressors. School counselors are increasingly challenged to assist students with culturally sensitive support and culturally appropriate interventions that target immigrant students’ multiple and complex social, academic, cultural, and adjustment needs.
Risk of obesity increases among Asian-American children in California the longer they are in the United States. Agencies and health organizations serving this population have expressed the need for educational materials focused on helping children achieve healthy weights. In collaboration with county staff, the Center used focus groups to identify the needs and interests of non-English speaking food stamp recipients about childhood overweight. The results of the focus groups were used to design a series of culturally sensitive and relevant educational materials to meet the need and interests of low-income Asian-Americans.
The role of child welfare and the courts in assisting children left behind after the raids forces child welfare agencies to become knowledgeable about state and federal polices that affect permanency planning. They must be able to navigate unfamiliar systems to facilitate parent-child reunification or identify alternative permanency arrangements in the best interest of the child.
Many reasons are given for lack of parental involvement by language minority parents. One factor that has often been cited as hindering effective parent-school collaboration is a deficit view of the language minority parents. This view is represented by the belief that students fail in schools because their families are characteristically flawed. For example, the deficit view may be directed at language minority parents by assuming that Mexican immigrant families do not value education.
About 5.5 million children in this country have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, according to an estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center. Among them, about one million children were brought here illegally by their parents, while about 4.5 million are United States citizens because they were born here.
Many illegal immigrant parents work long hours in low-wage jobs, sometimes more than one job. New research on very young children cited in the Harvard study showed that the undocumented parents’ difficult work conditions “contribute substantially to the lower cognitive skills of children in their families.” This was true even though the children were more likely to be in two-parent families than American children as a whole.