For some considerable time now, the impact poverty has had on the children of immigrant workers, has gone unnoticed. It may look as if immigrant child-poverty does not merit a lot of concern, for the sole reason that they tend to look even better in their new country than in their former countries. For example, Rector (2006, P.3) states that the American government has put in substantial efforts in poverty reduction, but still immigration policies do work directly opposite. Rector states that these policies do rise instead of decreasing poverty. Conversely, in the US the rising issue of immigrant child poverty is a matter of national significance. These children who now make up to twenty percent of school going children are a rapid growing section of America’s population.
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Immigrant child poverty poses considerable social predicaments, because it is related to several long lasting school and development linked difficulties. These problems in turn transform into poor socio-economic effects in adulthood. It is therefore important, to know why this situation is increasing because the children are America’s labor force of the future. As shown by Moore et al (2009, p.2), from 2000 the issue of poverty among immigrant children has been on the upward trend. Moore et al (2009, p.2), further states that, the analysis done by NCCP (national center for children in poverty), shows children with immigrant parents as the most affected by poverty.
“Since the immigration reforms of the 1960s, the U.S has imported poverty through immigration policies that permitted and encouraged the entry and residence of millions of low-skill immigrants” (Rector, 2006, p.3). This has had major negative effects on the children of these immigrants.
Among other effects, poverty among immigrant families has made their children lack proper growth development. Children from poor immigrant families tend to display lower levels of attainment as matched up against those from rich families.
Children from these poor families tend to leave schooling at early stages and with poorer grades. They are also born underweight; this in turn gives rise to early death and chronic ailments later in life.
Poverty among children from immigrant workers does lead to shortened life spans, malnourishment and constant illness. This is brought about by the lack of basic necessities. Among these necessities are medicines, food and medical services. They also lack proper schooling and thus lack relevant information on the necessary information about safety, educational attainment and necessary survival skills.
The actions needed to address the issue of immigrant children poverty lies in governments and their policies. Many governments do not take the issue of immigrants seriously and therefore there is no enough support directed to immigrant families. The issue of support should be addressed from the implementation of policies on immigration. For example Rector (2006, p.13) states that a lot of unskilled immigrants do enter the US every year. He says that, a lot of them have high probabilities of out-of-wedlock child bearing. This he states is a major indicator of poverty and welfare dependency. Therefore if this problem is not tackled at its root cause (during immigration), then it will not be contained; because unless immigration policies are altered, the current trends will certainly continue.
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Negligent border enforcement that makes it possible for millions of unskilled immigrants to cross should be checked. On the other hand, immigrants who are already in the US and are residents should be granted equal rights as every other citizen and thus the right to proper education, health, employment and other social services. Additionally, the recognition of the fact that, low skill immigration causes poverty and fiscal burden should make “the US government increase the average skill and education levels of incoming immigrants” (Rector, 2006, p.14).
The issue of immigrant poverty is a thorn in the flesh of the American government. The consequences pertaining to this issue on individual families and the society are embodied in the high costs this issue has on the American society. Whereas immigrants are to be net contributors to the American society by paying tax exceeding costs and benefits they get, they tend to be totally dependent on the government for the provision of basic necessities. These include, “direct personal benefits such as welfare, social security benefits, Medicare and education” (Rector, 2006, p.8).
The rise in poverty as a result of immigration has imposed costs that are outside the existing welfare benefits. This is consequential in the sense that, “magnifying the public perception of poverty, immigration can create political leverage for new anti-poverty programs. Immigration-induced poverty can easily have spillover effects resulting in new government entitlements to all poor Americans” (Rector, 2006, p.30).
Individually, it is noted that low education and poverty in immigrants and their children makes them entitled to welfare aid. Per year every poor immigrant in the US gets about 4,461 dollars in welfare aid. This is only a small portion of expenses the government incurs on poor immigrants. Rector (2006, p.29), further states that, “on average each poor immigrant creates a net cost to the government of $89, 000 over the course of his or her life”.
Immigrant child poverty is ever growing in the US with over 1 out of 5 children living poor. It poses considerable and ever rising social problems. This affects their development, health (Medical care) and education which culminates into long-term poverty (Moore et al, 2009; p.8).
Moore, et al. (2009). Children in poverty: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Options. Connecticut: Research Brief Publication.
Rector, R. (2006). Amnesty and continued low-skill immigration will substantially rise welfare costs and poverty. Massachusetts: Heritage Foundation.
Rector, R. (2006). Importing Poverty: Immigration and poverty in the United States. Massachusetts: Heritage Foundation.
Figures by Rector (2006) and Moore et al (2009)