Children of immigrants typically have different characteristics than their native born peers in various areas, such as educational achievement, health outcomes and family dynamic. Living arrangements, which can often be disrupted or made difficult by immigration status, can have negative consequences for immigrant youth and families, according to a 2011 report from the Immigrant Children issue of The Future of Children.
Children of recent immigrants are more likely to grow up with extended family. And certain immigrant groups have higher prevalence of two parent families, which adds to economic stability. Still, the report suggests that as immigrant families become more Americanized, they are more vulnerable to challenges that lead to single parenthood. The simple act of migration can separate families and parental units. Mixed legal status of family members can also threaten family unity as some members may face detention or deportation.
Southeast Asian immigrants are more susceptible to broken families due to the risk of death of family members from war or hardship in refugee camps, the report adds.
Researchers close their argument by encouraging U.S. lawmakers to change policies so that they strengthen immigrant families. One example is ensuring that children of immigrants have access to public programs and a social safety net.
The Future of Children is a collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. It aims to translate social science research about children and youth into information that is useful to policymakers, practitioners, grant-makers, advocates, the media, and students of public policy.