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Keywords:

  • Children;
  • Immigration;
  • Unauthorized Immigration;
  • Well-Being

The present study examines the effect of unauthorized immigration status on child well-being at a time of elevated immigration rates, economic decline, and unprecedented local lawmaking related to immigration. Immigrant families today are likely to differ from those of the past in that they are more likely to be from Latin America or the Caribbean and include unprecedented numbers of unauthorized immigrants. In addition, they are settling in destinations that have not historically had immigrant populations. The present study draws on interviews with 40 families from an emerging immigrant destination in north central Indiana to help illuminate the ways in which unauthorized immigration status influences child well-being. Results illustrate that unauthorized status extends beyond the individual to families and that mixed-status family situations create unique challenges for these families. More specifically, these results show the ways in which unauthorized immigrant status may impact family stress and uncertainty, health outcomes, and educational attainment and may result in increased social isolation for children in immigrant families.

Key Points for the Family Court Community:
  • Unauthorized immigration status is typically defined as an individual characteristics, however there are likely to be large numbers of families with authorized and unauthorized status family members. These “mixed-status families” create unique challenges for families and children.
  • This article informs practitioners about the ways in which recent state policies targeting unauthorized immigrants, in addition to existing federal policy, create barriers and negatively impact child and family well-being for Latino immigrants, regardless individual immigration status.
  • Unauthorized immigration status may impact family stress and uncertainty, health outcomes, educational attainment, and may result in increased social isolation for children in immigrant families.