FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2021

Contact: Lynn Tramonte ([email protected] / 202-255-0551); Claudia Hernandez ([email protected])

Washington D.C. – A new analysis indicates that a path to U.S. citizenship would directly impact more than 5 million children with an undocumented parent while also helping fight economic insecurity by lifting more than 250,000 children out of poverty. Around 34% of children with an undocumented parent live in poverty—more than double the 16% national child poverty rate. Today, the Children Thrive Action Network is releasing a collection of fact sheets that reveal how a path to citizenship would reduce the number of U.S. children living in poverty nationally and across the 40 states where data are available. 

Nationwide, over 5 million children face the harmful effects of immigration enforcement on their education, mental and physical health, economic stability, and access to critical supports. Four years of anti-immigrant policies have resulted in direct harms to children and families, many of which have been exacerbated by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—underscoring the urgency of finding a solution.  

“No child should have to worry about losing a parent to deportation, and no parent should be unable to provide for their kids simply because of their immigration status,” said Wendy Cervantes, director of immigration and immigrant families at the Center for Law and Social Policy. 

“These new data demonstrate yet another way that children’s lives could be changed for the better by a path to citizenship. Lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty is critical for their future as well as our country’s future. While the Senate parliamentarian’s initial decision disallowing citizenship to be included in the budget reconciliation legislation is disappointing, it hasn’t deterred our commitment to ensuring that millions of children are able to live without fear and thrive.” 

Using data from the federal American Community Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, researchers analyzed the influence of work authorization on earnings for undocumented immigrant parents. The findings showed a reduction in poverty resulting from wage increases across the 40 states. 

The new series of fact sheets detailing national and state data provides further evidence that a pathway to citizenship is a children’s issue, one that can make an immediate difference in the lives of children who need the stability that citizenship provides for their families. Congress must pursue every possible option to secure a path to citizenship this year that ensures all children are valued and cared for, regardless of where they or their parents were born. 

Dr. James Bachmeier, associate professor at Temple University; Dr. Chloe East, assistant professor of economics at University of Colorado, Denver; and Dr. Heather Koball, co-director at the National Center for Children in Poverty conducted the analysis. 

The Children Thrive Action Network (CTAN) is a group of national, state, and local organizations working to defend and support children in mixed-status immigrant families. Organizations committed to this mission can join the network here. Follow us on Twitter @LetKidsThrive.