Irregular Immigration Status Impacts for Children in the USA

Susan Mapp, Elizabethtown College
Emily Hornung, Elizabethtown College


Recent public discourse has focused on immigration from Mexico and Central America, with debates about the impact of the undocumented population on the USA. However, less discussed is how the undocumented status of members of immigrant families—i.e., living in a mixed-status family or being unauthorized oneself—has far-reaching impacts on the well-being of children in the family. Ineligibility for services, as well as psychological impacts related to fears of deportation and the stigmatization of an immigrant identity, create numerous and at times unyielding barriers to physical health, educational success, and psycho-social well-being. Examining the current literature provides an overview of these impacts, how they violate children’s rights, and their implications.