A new study from UC Irvine finds that children of legal immigrants are more likely to complete high school and spend an average of two more years in school than their peers whose parents are undocumented.
According to a report in the LA Times, UCI Professor Frank Bean and other researchers highlight the academic disadvantages of having undocumented parents. They found that on average, children whose parents had a green card or residency in the U.S. averaged 13 years of education compared with 11 for those whose parents didn’t have legal status.
So if the parents are coming to the country to give their children a better life filled with more opportunity, why are some of the kids falling behind? According to the lead author of the study:
Bean said children of illegal immigrants face high levels of stress, lack money for academic enrichment activities and, particularly for boys, pressures to work that lead many to drop out of school. The study, however, found no differences in the education levels of boys and girls born to illegal immigrants.
The study opens the argument over who is at fault for the problem. Some blame the schools for failing to help students graduate, others argue that the parents aren’t putting enough emphasis on education, while others blame the government for stalling on immigration reform and leaving so many young people in limbo. And though they may not be to blame, the study found that mothers may have a greater influence on their children than fathers claiming:
Children whose mothers were legal residents but whose fathers weren’t completed about 12 1/2 years of education. If the father was legal and the mother wasn’t, the children finished about 11 years of school.
Basically, being a child of undocumented parents makes it more difficult to attain upward mobility if they’re not finishing high school or going to college. Of course this isn’t to mention that immigrants who come here without papers were probably already better off in their home countries than those who emigrate legally. Whatever the case, this is one more point for immigration reform.[Photo By Chris Moncus]