On June 22, 2011, Jose Antonio Vargas wrote in the New York Times about his experience as an undocumented immigrant. Recently, NPR featured a 16 year-old rookie reporter who chronicled her experiences as an American citizen born to undocumented immigrant parents. Both stories put faces on the findings of a recent Future of Children Immigrant Children volume, which show that:
–Immigrant children, particularly those born to undocumented immigrant parents, are less likely to access key services such as early education and health care, than their native born peers.
–Performance of immigrant children in K-12 education varies by generational status and national origin. Immigrant youths, even some from economically disadvantaged families, often outperform their native peers in school. Poor parental education, poor-quality schools, and segregated neighborhoods, however, pose risk factors for immigrant children generally; and
–Barriers to postsecondary education are especially formidable for youth who lack legal status despite having attended U.S. elementary and secondary schools and having qualified for admission to college. Even when undocumented youth do attend college, they face substantial barriers to entering the workforce.
Nearly a quarter of schoolchildren in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Evidence shows that three policy reforms–increased attendance in quality preschool, improved instruction in English, and increased attendance in postsecondary education–would improve their school achievement, lift their economic well-being as adults, and increase their economic and social contributions to American society.