Presently, approximately 8.7 million children of below 8 years belong to immigrant families or families with one immigrant parent. This is a drastic increase from the 1990 figure that was 4.3 million, a fact that research studies attributed to the drastic increase in the number of legal and illegal immigration before the U.S government enforced tough cross border measures to manage illegal immigration (Fortuny, Hernandez, & Chaundry, 2010, p. 1-5).
As research studies show, although there is a group of immigrants who belong to higher social classes, mostly because of their formal education levels, most of immigrants belong to the low socioeconomic class, as most of them have to struggle to acquire the necessary experience required in the U.S labor market.
Although Since 2000, there has been a general decline in the poverty level in the U.S., still most immigrants (more so the recent ones) struggle to sustain their families due to their low level of work experience (refer to appendix figure 1, 2 and 3).
That is, immigrants account for the biggest number of poor U.S. citizens; hence, although the level of poverty among immigrants may reduce, the spills over effects of poverty are still persistent. In addition to lack of enough life sustaining incentives, as research studies show, more than a third of all immigrants belong to families of poor formal education backgrounds.
This has greatly contributed to increase in the level of poverty among immigrants, as most of them are low-skill individuals hence, because their earnings are not enough to cater fully for their family needs, they mostly depend on governmental anti-poverty incentives to boost their quality of life (refer to the appendix figure 4). Therefore, because children are the most vulnerable members of the family, all spillover effects of poverty affect them directly, as most of them depend on their parents for sustenance (Rector, 2006, p.1).
By 2004, the poverty rate among immigrant children was approximately fifty percent, as compared to non-immigrant children. Currently, More than a quarter of children belonging to immigrant families survive under poor living standards, as most of them have to sorely depend on the meager incentives earned by their struggling parents.
One primary area that has been adversely affected by the high level of poverty of immigrants is the attainment of education of their children. As research studies show, as compared to natives, the enrollment rate of immigrant’s children is low, right from preschools to higher learning institutions.
Although to some extent, currently, the trend is changing, because of the numerous governmental incentives, most children of immigrant face many learning related challenges, for example, language and fees problems. Due to this, majority of children of immigrants have to cope with any education related stress, failure of which greatly affects their educational performance.
In addition, Poverty has forced many children from poor families to drop out of school, because their parents cannot afford to pay their educational needs. For example, in 2007, approximately 8.8 % of children from poor immigrant families, dropped out of school, a figure that contrasts with approximately 0.9%, drop outs from native families (Fix & Capps, 2005, p.1).
In addition to the numerous negative effects on education attainment, poverty among immigrant families has affected the physical and mental health of children from poor immigrant families. As research studies indicate, majority poor immigrant families struggle to feed their children, a fact that has led to poor nutrition standards among poverty stricken immigrant families, leading to many health problems.
Further, as compared to poor natives, chances of children of immigrant families facing food insecurity are high, as most of them lack adequate means of providing for their families. In addition, because most poor immigrant families stay in localized areas, majority of their children lack most social amenities, for example, secure playgrounds.
On the other hand, because of stress that most of the children from poor immigrant families have to go through, most of them engage themselves in deviant behaviors, for example drug abuse and early sexual activity. Most children from poverty stricken immigrant families also are susceptible to behavioral and emotional problems, for example, aggression, marital distress, and hastiness.
These like scenarios are common because, these children have to endure tough economic and social challenges that are mostly related with harsh parenting. The condition becomes worse in cases where parents use violence, as most of these children are likely to develop deviant behaviors, for example, juvenile delinquency (Karkos, 2004, pp. 1-2).
On the other hand, poverty has also caused an increase in housing hardship; hence, rendering some immigrant families homeless. Although there is a decrease in housing hardship among children of immigrants, most children still live in poor housing conditions that are characterized by overcrowding and insecure surrounding environments.
Due to the numerous economic challenges that most poverty stricken families face, most families lack adequate shelter, because they have either to struggle with expensive and sometimes unaffordable mortgages that deprive their families of other essential survival commodities.
As proved by research findings, majority of homeless children face numerous forms of aggression from different members of the American communities; hence, the numerous mental health cases children of immigrants. Of all the affected children, the most affected are school and young children, as most school going children irregularly attend school, due to housing problems (Adams & Osho, 2008, pp. 2-11).
Considering the difficulties of most children of immigrants, regardless of their legal status of their being I the U.S., it is important for the federal government to set aside funds to help this group of individuals. Yes, although the government has numerous anti-poverty incentives it gives to support those considered poor in the society, one fact that most governmental initiatives fail to address, is offering of solid solutions to numerous problems faced poverty stricken immigrants.
As compared to the old generation of immigrants, the new generation of immigrants needs a lot of support to cope with the standards of life in the U.S. For example, a good proportion of immigrants are English learners hence, in most cases adapting to the labor market needs can be a great challenge. In addition to language problems, most immigrants’ level of education is low; hence, giving them supporting incentives can never be enough to support them all throughout their lives in America.
Therefore, it is important for the government to formulate policies that will ensure immigrant community gets the required orientation into the American culture, as this is the only way of minimizing the negative effects of poverty that has greatly affected the wellbeing of immigrant children. Any formulated policy should address the educational, health, and other needs of this group, it being the only measure of minimizing poverty negatively affecting the wellbeing children of immigrants.
Adams, M. O., & Osho, S. G. (2008). Migration, immigration and the politics of livable space: immigration and local housing issues in the United States. Research Journal of International Studies, 8. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from
Fix, M., & Capps, R. (2005). Immigrant children, urban schools, and the no child left behind act. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from
Fortuny, K., Hernandez, D., Chaundry, A. (2010). Young children of immigrants. The Leading Edge of America’s Future, Brief No. 3.
Karkos, D. S. (2004). Addressing the mental health needs of immigrants and refugees. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from
Rector, R. (2006). Importing poverty: immigration and poverty in the United States: a book of charts. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from
Smolensky, E., & Raphael, S. (2010). Immigration and Poverty in the United States. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from
Figure 1: shows how the distribution of poverty has shifted to higher poverty levels
Figure 2: Shows the poverty trends in the U.S. between the year 1965 and 2010
Figure3: Shows poverty level among immigrants
(Smolensky & Raphael, 2010)