Equity & Diversity

Demographics for Children of Immigrants

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 01, 2009 1 min read

Children of immigrants account for about one-quarter of youngsters in the nation under age 5, and their share of school enrollment will grow as they move into elementary school, according to a report on student demographics by the Washington-based Urban Institute. Immigrants’ children are more likely than those of U.S.-born parents to live in two-parent families, which the researchers say is a favorable factor for their well-being. but they also are more likely than children of native-born parents to live in poverty.

The study finds that few immigrant families with children use public benefits, even though they have low incomes. But the section of the study that makes this conclusion doesn’t mention the fact that children from immigrant families receive a free K-12 education, which is a public benefit. It focuses on how children of immigrants are less likely than children of natives to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal food-stamp program.

The report notes that immigration flows, particularly from Latin America, seem to have slowed in the past two years. The growth of illegal immigration has leveled off, likely because of the poor economy, the report says.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that schools will see fewer children of immigrants arriving at their doors, because most are born in the United States.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.