1 in 3 American Children Live in Immigrant Households

Up to One-Third of Americans Under the Age of 18 Have at Least One Immigrant Parent

According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, over one quarter (25.8 percent) of all Americans under the age of 18 has at least one immigrant parent, as of 2016—double the share of immigrant children from 1990.

Specifically, there are 17,997,000 children with immigrant parents in America, as compared to 51,892,000 million children with two American-born parents:

chart showing percent of american children and teenagers born to immigrant parents

These figures are comprehensive, and include both anchor babies and illegal immigrants:

The data here include only children (regardless of their nativity) who reside with at least one parent. The term “children of immigrants” (or children in immigrant families) refers to children under 18 with at least one immigrant parent. The term “immigrants” refers to people residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. This population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), certain legal nonimmigrants (e.g., persons on student or work visas), those admitted under refugee or asylee status, and persons illegally residing in the United States.

However, it is worth noting that the MPI’s data-set may not be entirely accurate, and the figure could be significantly higher.

Government figures tracking the number of undocumented children have been notoriously poor.  For example, a 2017 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that there were 4,500,000 anchor babies under the age of 18 living in America—more than previously thought.  It is unclear what figure the MPI used to determine the number of anchor babies in its estimate.  As a result, the figure could be low.



Likewise, a new study from the University of Yale argues that the government estimate that 11.1 million illegal immigrants live in America is way off.  Specifically, Dr Dr. Mohammad Fazel Zarandi argues that there are likely 22.8 million aliens in America—double the official figure.  Because the MPI based its figure on the lower government estimate, their figure is likely low.

Adjusting MPI’s estimate of illegal and anchor babies to account for these updated figures would push the number of American children who live in immigrant households (whether legal or illegal) closer to one-third.

But I suppose this borders on speculation: but what else can we do?  The fact is that there’s a massive statistical gap when it comes to tracking illegal immigration in America, and part of the reason is that the government intentionally obfuscates the data, or refuses to collect it in the first place.

For example, states with large illegal populations, like California, have turned themselves into sanctuary states, and refuse to record legal statuses when it comes to the administration of government services, taxation, and even in reporting crimes.  This means that we lack adequate data in the places we need it most.

Likewise, many “blue states” refuse to record legal statuses out of some bizarre desire to promote equality.  Consider that the Illinois State Board of Education prohibits schools from requiring Social Security numbers:

School districts are prohibited from requiring Social Security numbers, which are not required to determine eligibility for any education benefits (including pre-K services) or other benefits, such as free or reduced lunch. Schools are required to provide undocumented immigrant students all the same benefits and services made available to other students.

This means that Illinois has no idea whether its students are undocumented or not.  This creates a problem in generating accurate statistics, because the number of undocumented children is usually calculated with reference to school enrollment data—if we don’t have that, how do we know how many undocumented children there are?

High Immigrant Populations Make Assimilation Impossible

So why does this matter?  Am I not simply being racist or xenophobic in bringing it up?  No, it’s a valid policy concern.  And besides, I myself am from an immigrant household, so I can’t very well be xenophobic to myself.  Let’s get on with it.

The vast majority of scientific and sociological studies show that too much immigration, too fast, is extremely damaging to the cultural fiber of the host nation.  I made this point in detail in a piece on immigration and the death of Canadian culture, but I’ll summarize it again here.



A working paper from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that past a certain level, or tipping-point, immigrants start to self-segregate—they voluntarily form insular communities, rather than assimilate into the broader society.  The tipping point varies in size, and depends on the size of the “cultural gulf” between the two groups.  Factors which influence the size of the gulf include cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences—the more different the two groups, the bigger the gulf.

This suggests that America could sustain higher immigration levels from similar places, like Canada or the UK, than it could from places different places, like Pakistan or Zimbabwe.  And of course, this makes intuitive sense: there is a Chinatown or Little Italy in every big American city, but have you ever seen a “Little England” or “Australiaville”?  I thought not.

These findings are also supported by the work of renowned social scientist—and ardent liberal—Robert Putnam.  In his landmark study, he found that mass immigration was the culprit behind all manner of social ills in the USA, from decreased charitable giving, to declining social and political participation, to higher crime rates.  Putnam showed conclusively that too much immigration too fast unravels society’s fabric.

In light of these studies, I think the fact that up to one-in-three American children live in immigrant households is troubling.  It’s not that immigrants are bad people, it’s that for assimilation to occur, there needs to be a society to assimilate into.

Increasingly, this isn’t the case—there are insular communities all over America which fail to integrate.  Just consider the fact that some 67 percent of all Hispanic immigrants (legal or illegal) are functionally illiterate, and that this statistic persists even after 15 years of living in America.  Clearly there’s not assimilating—often they don’t even have the option.

And remember, this problem is compounded by the fact that the majority of immigrants settle in urban areas, in a few specific states—Los Angeles and New York City have more immigrants than entire states.  In these areas, therefore, the proportion of immigrant children is even higher.  In New York City it is well over 50 percent.

The question must be asked: who’s assimilating with whom?

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About John Whitaker 36 Articles
Journalist, small cap trader, classical conservative.