Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Immigrant Families

More than 24 percent of the nation’s children – over 17 million – have at least one foreign-born parent. Immigrant families are disproportionately likely to experience poverty and other hardships that can place children at risk, and research points to significant gaps in meeting their needs.

Immigrant families have high employment rates, but immigrants are more likely to receive low wages than native-born workers and less likely to benefit from government work supports. Changes to federal welfare and immigration laws in 1996 reduced immigrants’ access to public assistance, and while some states have tried to fill the gaps created by federal laws, others have enacted further restrictions.

Young children of immigrants have less access to prekindergarten programs than children with native-born parents. And immigrant families face barriers accessing the health services they need, particularly in the area of mental health.

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