This new report, Children in Immigrant Families: A California Data Brief, challenges some conventional wisdom about the second generation.
- Well over three quarters (85%) of immigrants' children were born in the United States--that is, they were born American citizens.
- Almost three quarters are fully bilingual, with 80% speaking a non-English language at home. Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese are the most common of these languages.
- More California "English Learner" students are mastering English than before, which means that the redesignation strategy for teaching English as a Second Language is working.
- However, English Learners are less likely to meet California's Academic Achievement Standards, and to pass the high school exit exam.
- 29% of immigrants' children live in "linguistically isolated" households, i.e., households in which none of the adults speak English well.
- Their parents have less formal education and they are far less likely than their peers to attend preschool or nursery school, and are less likely to attend high school as well.
- 54% live in low-income households, and they are more likely to have no health insurance and to be in poor health.
- Almost all immigrant parents work, but earn less than non-immigrant parents.
This report may give more urgency to economic development programs aimed at immigrant women, such as ALAS. Even our immigrant children who are born citizens face grave disadvantages in care and education. The economic stability of immigrant parents serves their children all down the line: in prenatal care, overall health care, support for education from preschool on, etc.