Understanding the Children of Immigrant Families

Updated April 5, 2024 | Posted October 21, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Five kids with their arms around one another. They are standing outdoors, smiling, and represent a range of races and ethnicities.

In recent years, chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies reg­u­lar­ly have been at the cen­ter of pub­lic pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions, such as those regard­ing the south­ern bor­der of the Unit­ed States and the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals pol­i­cy, among oth­ers. To pro­mote an accu­rate under­stand­ing of this pop­u­la­tion and con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions about how to sup­port these chil­dren and their fam­i­lies, it is impor­tant to under­stand basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy and key facts about this group in the Unit­ed States.

Def­i­n­i­tions About Chil­dren in Immi­grant Families

Immi­grant or Foreign-born

The terms immi­grant and for­eign-born are inter­change­able and refer to indi­vid­u­als who were not U.S. cit­i­zens at birth but may have become cit­i­zens through nat­u­ral­iza­tion. Those who are not cit­i­zens may include law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dents, those with tem­po­rary visas, refugees and asy­lum seek­ers or undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants.

U.S. Cit­i­zens

Cit­i­zen­ship usu­al­ly is acquired when a child is born in the Unit­ed States, Puer­to Rico, Guam, the U.S. Vir­gin Islands or the North­ern Mar­i­anas or born abroad to Amer­i­can par­ents. Cit­i­zen­ship also can be obtained through the nat­u­ral­iza­tion process.


This is the process in which a law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dent becomes a U.S. cit­i­zen after meet­ing require­ments in the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act.

Kids under age 18 can become nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens if at least one par­ent nat­u­ral­izes or if they are adopt­ed by a U.S. cit­i­zen par­ent. Adults gen­er­al­ly can qual­i­fy for nat­u­ral­iza­tion after being a per­ma­nent res­i­dent for at least five years, or three years if mar­ried to a U.S. cit­i­zen, along with meet­ing oth­er spe­cif­ic cri­te­ria. Indi­vid­u­als can also qual­i­fy based on mil­i­tary ser­vice. Many par­ents are eli­gi­ble to nat­u­ral­ize and may need sup­port to take the steps to become a U.S. cit­i­zen, which could help their fam­i­lies access impor­tant pub­lic ser­vices, legal rights, new job oppor­tu­ni­ties and oth­er benefits.

Law­ful Per­ma­nent Res­i­dents (also known as green card” holders)

This per­ma­nent sta­tus may be obtained through mul­ti­ple meth­ods, includ­ing fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships, employ­ment spon­sor­ships, human­i­tar­i­an pro­tec­tion (for refugees and asy­lum seek­ers) or the Diver­si­ty Visa Pro­gram lottery.

Asy­lum Seek­ers and Refugees

These are indi­vid­u­als who need pro­tec­tion due to per­se­cu­tion or fear of per­se­cu­tion on account of race, reli­gion, nation­al­i­ty and/​or mem­ber­ship in a par­tic­u­lar social group or polit­i­cal opin­ion.” Asy­lum seek­ers sub­mit appli­ca­tions at a port of entry to the Unit­ed States or when they are already in the coun­try, while refugees are usu­al­ly out­side of the Unit­ed States when they are con­sid­ered for resettlement. 

Undoc­u­ment­ed Immigrants

This term refers to for­eign-born indi­vid­u­als who are not cit­i­zens and not legal res­i­dents. This includes peo­ple who entered the Unit­ed States with­out inspec­tion and those who were legal­ly admit­ted on a tem­po­rary basis but stayed beyond their required depar­ture date.


Gen­er­al­ly, migrants” refers to peo­ple who changed their coun­try of usu­al res­i­dence regard­less of the rea­son. It may be vol­un­tary or forced migra­tion, and it may be tem­po­rary or permanent.


Nativ­i­ty refers to whether indi­vid­u­als are native-born ver­sus for­eign-born. Native-born is defined as born in the Unit­ed States, Puer­to Rico, Guam, the U.S. Vir­gin Islands or the North­ern Mar­i­anas or born abroad to Amer­i­can parents. 

First-gen­er­a­tion Immi­grant Children

This term typ­i­cal­ly refers to for­eign-born chil­dren with at least one for­eign-born parent. 

Sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Immi­grant Children

This term typ­i­cal­ly refers to native-born chil­dren with at least one for­eign-born parent. 

Chil­dren in Immi­grant Families

Gen­er­al­ly, this term includes both first- and sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion immi­grant children.

How Many Chil­dren Are in Immi­grant Fam­i­lies in the Unit­ed States? 

One in 4 chil­dren (25%) — or 18 mil­lion kids — were in immi­grant fam­i­lies in 2022, up from 1 in 5 (19%) in the ear­ly 2000s. The share of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies also increased in all but three states, and it at least dou­bled in 16 states, over this time period.

Share of Children in Immigrant Families
Share of kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies from 2000 to 2022.

While this pop­u­la­tion has grown con­sid­er­ably dur­ing the last 20 or more years, births to for­eign-born moth­ers have not mir­rored this increase. In 2021 (lat­est data avail­able on the KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter), 21% of births were to for­eign-born women, the same share as in 2000. This per­cent­age rose to 25% in 2006 but has since dropped back down to its pre­vi­ous level.

How many youth and young adults are immi­grants or live in immi­grant fam­i­lies in the Unit­ed States?

About 10.5 mil­lion, or 22%, of young peo­ple ages 14 to 24 were for­eign-born or lived with at least one for­eign-born par­ent in 20172021. This pop­u­la­tion has grown from 9.6 mil­lion, or 20%, in 20062010.

What states have the largest share of chil­dren of immi­grant families?

Sev­en states con­sis­tent­ly have ranked at the top in recent years, with the biggest shares in the coun­try: Cal­i­for­nia (44% in 2022), New Jer­sey (41%), New York (36%), Flori­da (34%), Mass­a­chu­setts and Neva­da (both 33%) and Texas (32%). Half of the nation’s 18 mil­lion chil­dren of immi­grant fam­i­lies reside in just four of these states: Cal­i­for­nia (3.7 mil­lion in 2022), Texas (2.4 mil­lion), Flori­da (1.5 mil­lion) and New York (1.4 million).

View all state-lev­­el data on chil­dren in immi­grant families

State-level Look: Children in Immigrant Families
Share of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies in 2022

What states have the largest share of these youth and young adults?

Sim­i­lar to the pat­terns for kids, states with the high­est per­cent­ages of old­er youth ages 14 to 24 who are immi­grants or live with at least one immi­grant par­ent include Cal­i­for­nia (44% in 20172021), Neva­da and New Jer­sey (both 34%), New York (32%), Flori­da (31%) and Texas (30%). These six states have had the high­est shares of youth and young adults in immi­grant house­holds for all years avail­able on the KIDS COUNT Data Center. 

More than half (53%) of these 10.5 mil­lion young peo­ple live in the same four states not­ed for chil­dren above: Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, New York and Florida. 

See data for all states

What parts of the coun­try have seen the great­est increase in shares of chil­dren and youth of immi­grant families?

Over­all, five states expe­ri­enced the biggest rise in shares of chil­dren, youth and young adults in immi­grant fam­i­lies dur­ing the past 15 to 20 years: Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, New Jer­sey, Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton. Spe­cif­ic find­ings by age group and state are pro­vid­ed below.

Chil­dren under age 18 

Over the last two decades, the fol­low­ing states and D.C. — all but one locat­ed in the East­ern region of the Unit­ed States — expe­ri­enced the largest increase in chil­dren of immi­grant fam­i­lies, with jumps of 10 to 17 per­cent­age points:

  • Mary­land: from 15% in 20002002 to 32% in 2022
  • New Jer­sey: 27% to 41%
  • Mass­a­chu­setts: 20% to 33%
  • Wash­ing­ton: 18% to 30%
  • Delaware: 9% to 21%
  • Dis­trict of Colum­bia: 17% to 28%
  • Vir­ginia: 13% to 24%
  • Geor­gia: 10% to 21%
  • North Car­oli­na: 9% to 19%

Young peo­ple ages 14 to 24

Dur­ing the 15-year span in which data are avail­able for youth and young adults in immi­grant house­holds, the fol­low­ing states saw the most growth in shares of this pop­u­la­tion, with upticks of 4 to 5 per­cent­age points:

How do states vary by chil­dren of immi­grants’ parental regions of origin?

As nation­al con­text, the major­i­ty of U.S. chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies have par­ents orig­i­nat­ing from Latin Amer­i­ca, although this share has declined from 62% in 2005 to 57% in 2022. The share with par­ents from Asia, on the oth­er hand, has increased from 22% to 25% in the same time peri­od. The per­cent­age with par­ents from Africa rose as well, from 4% to 8%. Chil­dren of immi­grants with par­ents from Europe declined slight­ly, from 10% to 9%, dur­ing this timeframe.

Par­ent region of ori­gin: Latin America

At the state lev­el in 2022, chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies with par­ents orig­i­nat­ing from Latin Amer­i­ca were most like­ly to live in the fol­low­ing west­ern and south­ern states, among those with avail­able data:

  • New Mex­i­co: 81
  • Flori­da: 78%
  • Ari­zona: 72
  • Arkansas: 72%
  • Texas: 71%
  • Okla­homa: 70%

How­ev­er, these states are not where most of the growth occurred in the past cou­ple decades. Texas has actu­al­ly expe­ri­enced the biggest decrease in shares of this pop­u­la­tion of any state, with a drop of 10 per­cent­age points between 2005 and 2022, and Ari­zona had a drop of 9 per­cent­age points in this peri­od. New Mex­i­co and Arkansas also saw small declines of 4 and 2 points, respec­tive­ly. The great­est growth in shares of this pop­u­la­tion occurred in five oth­er states since the mid-2000s: 

  • Ten­nessee: from 44% in 2005 to 56% in 2022
  • Con­necti­cut: 40% to 52%
  • Wis­con­sin: 41% to 52%
  • South Car­oli­na: 51% to 61%
  • Penn­syl­va­nia: 31% to 41%

Par­ent region of ori­gin: Asia 

Hawaii and Michi­gan by far have the largest shares of kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies with par­ents orig­i­nat­ing from Asia, at 64% and 54% in 2022, respec­tive­ly. The next high­est shares were in Wash­ing­ton and Vir­ginia in 2022, with 35%.

While Hawaii and Michi­gan con­sis­tent­ly have the great­est shares of this pop­u­la­tion, these states are expe­ri­enc­ing oppo­site trends over time. Between 2005 and 2022, Hawaii had the sec­ond-largest decline in this pop­u­la­tion nation­wide, with a drop of 9 per­cent­age points (Louisiana had the biggest drop in the coun­try, from 37% to 22%). Michi­gan, con­verse­ly, saw the most growth in shares of this pop­u­la­tion of any state in the last 17 years, with a 9 per­cent­age point jump between 2005 and 2022. Five states fol­lowed Michigan’s upward tra­jec­to­ry, with increas­es of 6 to 8 per­cent­age points: Ida­ho and Ari­zona (both rose from 9% to 17%), Cal­i­for­nia (25% to 32%), Ore­gon (21% to 27%) and Texas (12% to 18%).

Par­ent region of ori­gin: Africa

Min­neso­ta, Ohio and Mary­land con­sis­tent­ly have the great­est per­cent­ages of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies with par­ents orig­i­nat­ing from Africa, among states with avail­able data: 35%, 27% and 25% in 2022, respec­tive­ly. These three states have been home to the largest shares of this pop­u­la­tion since 2015.

Two of these states — Min­neso­ta and Ohio — also expe­ri­enced the most growth in shares of this pop­u­la­tion since the mid 2000s, fol­lowed by Ken­tucky and Iowa:

  • Min­neso­ta: from 17% in 2005 to 35% in 2022
  • Ohio: 15% to 27%
  • Ken­tucky: 8% to 19%
  • Iowa: 6% to 17%

Par­ent region of ori­gin: Europe

In 2022, the great­est shares of kids of immi­grants with par­ents from orig­i­nat­ing Europe were in Con­necti­cut (19%), Illi­nois (16%) and South Car­oli­na (16%). While state fig­ures on this mea­sure vary from year to year, Con­necti­cut con­sis­tent­ly has among the high­est per­cent­ages in the country. 

Although this pop­u­la­tion has not grown as a per­cent­age nation­wide over the last 17 years, it has shift­ed with­in the coun­try, with Rhode Island, Ken­tucky, Penn­syl­va­nia and Con­necti­cut each see­ing decreas­es of at least 10 per­cent­age points. No sin­gle state saw a large jump in this time­frame, but the biggest increase occurred in Hawaii, with a 3‑percentage point bump from 4% in 2005 to 7% in 2022.

How many chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies are U.S. citizens? 

In 2022, 89% of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies were U.S. cit­i­zens, an increase from 84% in 2005. This is con­sis­tent with the Cen­sus Bureau’s find­ing that the vast major­i­ty (near­ly 90%) of chil­dren of immi­grants are born in the Unit­ed States.

How many U.S. chil­dren, over­all, are foreign-born?

Among all chil­dren (not just those in immi­grant fam­i­lies), about 2.6 mil­lion, or 4%, were born in anoth­er coun­try, accord­ing to 2022 data. This fig­ure has hov­ered at 3% or 4% since the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter began track­ing it in 2005. These kids may be U.S. cit­i­zens by nat­u­ral­iza­tion or not cit­i­zens. As not­ed, chil­dren who are not U.S. cit­i­zens may law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dents, those with visas, refugees and asy­lum seek­ers or undoc­u­ment­ed immigrants.

State-level Look: Share of Foreign Born Children
Per­cent­age of for­eign-born chil­dren in each state in 2022.

How many chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies do not have par­ents who are U.S. cit­i­zens (i.e., nei­ther par­ent at home is a citizen)? 

An esti­mat­ed 35% of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies did not have res­i­dent par­ents who were U.S. cit­i­zens in 2022 — a fig­ure that has declined from 42% over the past. 

How many chil­dren of immi­grants have par­ents who recent­ly came to the Unit­ed States?

Nation­wide, only 3% of kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies (about 600,000 in 2022) live with par­ents who have been in the coun­try five years or less. In oth­er words, near­ly all chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies do not have res­i­dent par­ents who are new to the Unit­ed States. This fig­ure has remained steady at 3% or 4% since 2005. At the state lev­el in 2022, this fig­ure ranged from just 1% in Neva­da up to 6% in Ohio and 7% in Mis­sis­sip­pi, among states with data.

Among young peo­ple, what share of each racial and eth­nic group are first- or sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion immigrants? 

Nation­al­ly, about 75% of Asian and Pacif­ic Islander youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 were immi­grants or lived in immi­grant fam­i­lies in 20172021. The same was true for 50% of Lati­nos and 32% among those of two or more races, fol­lowed by 17% of Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native, 15% of Black and 6% of white youth. 

Share of Youth and Young Adults who are Immigrants or Live in Immigrant Families
Nation­wide data, dis­ag­gre­gat­ed by race and eth­nic­i­ty, from 20172021.

Among states with data in 20172021, the share of young peo­ple in each racial and eth­nic group who were first- or sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion immi­grants var­ied wide­ly:

  • Asian and Pacif­ic Islander youth and young adults: New Jer­sey had the high­est share of immi­grants or those in immi­grant fam­i­lies, at 84%, while Hawaii had the low­est, at 47%.
  • Lati­no youth and young adults: State shares ranged from a high of 64% in Mary­land to a low of 14% in Montana.
  • Two or more races: Mon­tana had the small­est per­cent­age (4%) of these youth ages 14 to 24 in immi­grant house­holds, while Flori­da (47%) had the largest.
  • Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native youth and young adults: In New York, near­ly half (47%) of these young peo­ple were immi­grants or in immi­grant fam­i­lies, while the share in Wyoming was less than 1%.
  • Black youth and young adults: Min­neso­ta had the high­est share in the coun­try, at 54% in immi­grant house­holds, while Arkansas and Mis­sis­sip­pi had the low­est, at 1%.
  • White youth and young adults: State fig­ures ranged from highs of 15% in Cal­i­for­nia and New Jer­sey to lows of 1% in Arkansas, Mis­sis­sip­pi and West Virginia.

Income and Employ­ment Sta­tis­tics for Chil­dren and Youth in Immi­grant Families

Eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty pro­vides a crit­i­cal foun­da­tion for healthy child devel­op­ment. When par­ents are unem­ployed or earn low wages, their abil­i­ty to meet basic needs and access resources to sup­port their kids is lim­it­ed, which can under­mine their children’s well-being and prospects in school and beyond. Econom­ic hard­ship can also dis­rupt children’s cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment and phys­i­cal and men­tal health. These impacts rever­ber­ate across the lifes­pan. Chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies gen­er­al­ly have dis­parate access to resources and face greater hur­dles to eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty com­pared to chil­dren in non-immi­grant families.

How many youth in immi­grant house­holds live in high-pover­­­ty areas? 

One in 10 (10%) of these young peo­ple ages 14 to 24 lived in high-pover­­ty areas in 20182022, down from 20% in 20092013. High-pover­ty areas” refer to cen­sus tracts with pover­ty rates of 30% or more. At the state lev­el, this fig­ure was as low as 2% in New Hamp­shire and as high as 22% in New Mex­i­co in 20182022.

What share of young peo­ple in immi­grant fam­i­lies live in low-income households?

About 2 in 5 (39%) youth and young adults who were immi­grants or resided with immi­grant par­ents lived in low-income house­holds in 20182022. Among states with avail­able data, this fig­ure ranged from a low of 25% in New Hamp­shire up to 55% in Mississippie. 

How like­ly are chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies to live in low-income work­ing households? 

In 2022: 29% of kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies were liv­ing in low-income work­ing house­holds com­pared to 20% of kids in U.S.-born fam­i­lies. The dif­fer­ence between these two groups has nar­rowed over the last decade. While the share of chil­dren in low-income work­ing fam­i­lies increased by two per­cent­age points for both groups from 2021 to 2022, the fig­ure for chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies is low­er now than it was dur­ing the pre­vi­ous decade, when it stayed above 30%.

Children in Low-income Working Families by Family Nativity
Nation­al data from 2012 to 2022

How many chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies have par­ents who lack secure employment?

About 4.2 mil­lion, or near­ly one in four, kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies live in house­holds where no par­ent has reg­u­lar, full-time employ­ment, accord­ing to 2022 data. This fig­ure steadi­ly fell over the past decade from 28% in 2012 to 21% in 2019, and then jumped to 27% in 2021 before drop­ping back down to 23% in 2022. Among states with data in 2022, this sta­tis­tic var­ied wide­ly, from less than one in ten (8%) kids in South Dako­ta to near­ly one in three (30%) in Louisiana.

What is the medi­an income for immi­grant and non-immi­­grant fam­i­lies with kids?

The medi­an income for immi­grant fam­i­lies with chil­dren was $81,900 in 2022, com­pared to $90,400 for U.S.-born fam­i­lies with chil­dren. House­holds with chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies con­sis­tent­ly have had low­er medi­an incomes in recent decades, although incomes sub­stan­tial­ly increased for both house­hold types since 2012, and the gap has narrowed.

Hous­ing Sta­tis­tics for Chil­dren in Immi­grant Families 

Safe, sta­ble and afford­able hous­ing is crit­i­cal for child health and well-being. Sta­ble hous­ing roots chil­dren, young peo­ple and fam­i­lies in com­mu­ni­ties, enabling them to access oppor­tu­ni­ties, build social net­works and have con­sis­tent edu­ca­tion and neigh­bor­hood expe­ri­ences, all of which pro­vide an impor­tant foun­da­tion to thrive. Hous­ing sta­bil­i­ty is linked to many pos­i­tive out­comes for chil­dren and fam­i­lies, includ­ing bet­ter edu­ca­tion­al achieve­ment, employ­ment sta­bil­i­ty and phys­i­cal and men­tal health. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies are more like­ly to expe­ri­ence hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty than their peers in non-immi­grant fam­i­lies. Obtain­ing afford­able hous­ing is a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge. When fam­i­lies have to pay too much for rent or a mort­gage, it lim­its their capac­i­ty to afford oth­er neces­si­ties, such as food, health care, trans­porta­tion and child care. Unaf­ford­able hous­ing can also lead to oth­er risks such as fore­clo­sures and evic­tions, fam­i­lies mov­ing in with oth­ers (crowd­ed hous­ing), mov­ing to less safe con­di­tions or homelessness.

How does the abil­i­ty to afford hous­ing com­pare between kids born to immi­grant fam­i­lies and kids in U.S.-born families? 

In 2022, 37% of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies were liv­ing in house­holds with a high hous­ing cost bur­den (i.e., more than 30% of month­ly income spent on hous­ing) ver­sus 28% of chil­dren in U.S.-born fam­i­lies. While hous­ing cost bur­dens have declined for both groups since 2012, this dis­par­i­ty has per­sist­ed since 20002002, the ear­li­est years of data availability. 

Share of Children Living in Household With a High Housing Cost Burden
By fam­i­ly nativ­i­ty from 2012 to 2022

How does home own­er­ship com­pare for immi­grant and non-immi­­grant fam­i­lies with children?

In 2022, chil­dren in U.S.-born fam­i­lies were more like­ly to live in house­holds that owned their homes (68%) com­pared to chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies (58%). This home own­er­ship dis­par­i­ty between immi­grant and non-immi­grant fam­i­lies has per­sist­ed for two decades. 

Why does home own­er­ship matter?

Experts argue that increas­ing afford­able home own­er­ship, in addi­tion to afford­able rental hous­ing, is a crit­i­cal way to improve hous­ing sta­bil­i­ty and afford­abil­i­ty for vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies. Major advan­tages to home own­er­ship include sta­ble or declin­ing hous­ing costs over time (with a fixed-rate mort­gage) com­pared to rental costs that typ­i­cal­ly increase over time, as well as the abil­i­ty to build wealth through home equi­ty. A home owner’s mort­gage pay­ment each month can be seen as an invest­ment in an asset, where­as each rent pay­ment is an expense. An analy­sis by the Urban Insti­tute also found that low-income home own­ers were actu­al­ly less bur­dened by hous­ing costs than low-income renters. Rec­og­niz­ing the chal­lenges that immi­grant fam­i­lies face in obtain­ing sta­ble hous­ing, lead­ers can pur­sue strate­gies to expand afford­able home own­er­ship for this pop­u­la­tion and low-income fam­i­lies in general.

What share of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies live in crowd­ed hous­ing com­pared to chil­dren in non-immi­­grant families?

Chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies are close to three times more like­ly to live in crowd­ed hous­ing (defined as more than one per­son per room, includ­ing liv­ing rooms, din­ing rooms, etc.). In 2022, 26% of kids in immi­grant fam­i­lies lived in crowd­ed hous­ing, an improve­ment from 36% in 20002002. In these same years, how­ev­er, just 9% or 10% of chil­dren in U.S.-born fam­i­lies were liv­ing in crowd­ed hous­ing. Over­crowd­ing, specif­i­cal­ly, is linked to neg­a­tive social, edu­ca­tion­al, phys­i­cal and men­tal health out­comes for children.

Edu­ca­tion and Lan­guage Sta­tis­tics for Chil­dren in Immi­grant Families 

Pro­mot­ing edu­ca­tion­al achieve­ment requires ongo­ing qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion, learn­ing envi­ron­ments and sup­port from ear­ly child­hood through young adult­hood. Many chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies face greater hur­dles to edu­ca­tion­al suc­cess than chil­dren in non-immi­grant fam­i­lies. The edu­ca­tion and lan­guage indi­ca­tors pro­vid­ed below — as well as our country’s per­sis­tent aca­d­e­m­ic dis­par­i­ties by race, income and Eng­lish pro­fi­cien­cy — demon­strate the need for addi­tion­al efforts to pro­vide equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess. Lead­ers can pri­or­i­tize the needs of these chil­dren, sup­port their strengths like bilin­gual­ism, and reduce bar­ri­ers to achievement. 

How like­ly are chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies to have no par­ent at home with a high school diplo­ma or equivalent?

Near­ly one in five (18%) chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies had no par­ent with a high school diplo­ma in 2022, a decrease from 29% in 20002002. This same sta­tis­tic is much low­er among chil­dren in U.S.-born fam­i­lies and declined from 9% to 5% over the same two decades.

What per­cent­age of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies live in lin­guis­ti­cal­ly iso­lat­ed households? 

In 2022, 16% of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies lived in lin­guis­ti­cal­ly iso­lat­ed house­holds, a fig­ure that has dropped by 12 per­cent­age points since reach­ing 28% in the ear­ly 2000s. States with the great­est shares in 2022 were Louisiana (26%), Ten­nessee (24%) and Ken­tucky (21%), among those with avail­able data. (Note: A lin­guis­ti­cal­ly iso­lat­ed house­hold is one in which no per­son age 14 or old­er speaks only Eng­lish, and no per­son age 14 or old­er who speaks Eng­lish as a sec­ond lan­guage speaks it very well.) 

How like­ly are fourth-grade Eng­lish lan­guage learn­ers to score below pro­fi­cient in reading? 

Nation­wide, 90% of fourth graders who are Eng­lish lan­guage learn­ers scored below pro­fi­cient in read­ing in 2022. By com­par­i­son: 64% of their Eng­lish-flu­ent class­mates did not achieve read­ing pro­fi­cien­cy that year.

U.S. Child Pop­u­la­tion Growth 

The over­all U.S. child pop­u­la­tion has decreased in size in recent decades, accord­ing to a recent report com­mis­sioned by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. At the same time, the pop­u­la­tion size of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies has increased, as not­ed above, con­tribut­ing to the grow­ing diver­si­ty of America’s chil­dren. A declin­ing U.S. child pop­u­la­tion means a future decrease in the work­force which, in turn, places greater impor­tance on kids’ health and edu­ca­tion­al out­comes so that they can become viable work­ers. The shrink­ing child pop­u­la­tion not only ele­vates the impor­tance of each child to our country’s future pros­per­i­ty, it also ele­vates the role of immi­grants as a source of pop­u­la­tion and eco­nom­ic growth.

For all chil­dren to thrive, the basic needs of every young per­son — from every demo­graph­ic group — must be met. The increas­ing racial, eth­nic and lin­guis­tic diver­si­ty of U.S. chil­dren means that lead­ers must invest in cul­tur­al­ly respon­sive strate­gies to sup­port the well-being of young peo­ple. The Foun­da­tion urges pol­i­cy­mak­ers and oth­er lead­ers to pri­or­i­tize poli­cies and pro­grams that would expand oppor­tu­ni­ties for America’s chil­dren, youth and young adults in immi­grant fam­i­lies, along with oth­er vul­ner­a­ble groups that con­sis­tent­ly face bar­ri­ers to success.

Learn More About Chil­dren of Immigrants

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion offers a range of reports and resources to pro­mote the health and well-being of chil­dren and fam­i­lies, includ­ing the immi­grant pop­u­la­tion. Explore the resources below and sign up for our newslet­ters to con­tin­ue learning. 

Addi­tion­al resources from the Migra­tion Pol­i­cy Insti­tute:

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