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The immigration status of Latino parents affects their children’s health

When considering current hot button topics, immigration is sure to make the short list.  Of the various parts that make up the general issue, one that isn’t spoken on widely is the effects it can have on the children of immigrant parents.  The Foundations for Child Development conducted a study on the risks children of immigrants face.

The study found that children of immigrants are at a much higher risk of poverty than children of parents who were born in the United States.  This socio-economic factor trickles down into the those children’s health and educational realities.

At this moment, 55% of Latino children in the United States with parents born in the country are living in poverty.  While this number is tremendous, the number for those with immigrant parents is much higher.  With these children, 20% don’t even have health insurance.  What makes matters trickier is when children are undocumented or have undocumented parents.  Legal status in parents can affect the programs and policies children have access to because their limits are more exclusionary towards those who are undocumented.

While millions of adults across ethnic or racial barriers are ineligible for federal programs because of their immigration status, 84% of their children were born here, making them citizens – which in turn makes them automatically eligible for individual health insurance.  While that’s great for the millions of children affected, many are still without because their parents lack the education or knowledge of how to access these programs.  While its progress that so many children have the possibility of getting these benefits, there are still over a million children in the country who are ineligible for health insurance in 46 states.

For the Latino community, this is critical.  The Latino population as a whole faces serious health issues that require education in prevention and management like obesity, diabetes and others.  Without proper medical care, children are at risk of developing these conditions sooner – conditions that are much more serious with a childhood onset than adulthood.

While immigration isn’t the issue, it does pinpoint and bring to light areas that are desperate for improvement.  Immigrants, regardless of legal status, and their children are in desperate need of adequate and basic medical care.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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