One in Four American Kids Lives in an Immigrant Family

by Ryan Lovelace

As Border Patrol officials struggle to contain the influx of illegal-immigrant kids at the southern border, it’s worth noting just how many American children are living in households led by immigrants. “Children from immigrant families now account for one in every four young children in the United States,” reads a new report from the Migration Policy Institute. “Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the size and share of the U.S. young-child population with at least one immigrant parent.”

More than 9 million children under the age of eight are the children of immigrants, according to the report. California houses more young children of immigrants than any other state, and the 2.2 million kids make up nearly 50 percent of all children under the age of eight living in the state. Thirty-seven percent of young children living in New Jersey and Nevada are the children of immigrants, the second highest percentage nationwide.

North Dakota has the least amount of young children living in an immigrant family of any state, with 3,100 young children of immigrant families living within its borders. But the smallest percentage of young children living in an immigrant family as a share of all young children belongs to West Virginia. Just 2 percent of young children in West Virginia belong to an immigrant family. 

The Migration Policy Institute reads these numbers as providing evidence for the need to pass the Senate’s immigration bill, increase English-language programs, and promote President Obama’s “Preschool for All Initiative.” The report also explains that its findings suggest a need for greater parent education, as 21 percent of parents of young children living in the United States are foreign-born. The report says immigrant and refugee parents are more than twice as likely as native-born parents to be “low-educated.”

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