Illegal Immigrants with Disabilities: The Complications for Children with Special Needs Added to the General Difficulties Faced by Immigrants of Overcoming the Barriers of Culture, Economics, Language and the Availability of Health Services

By Waldman, H. Barry; Compton, Kristin et al. | The Exceptional Parent, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Illegal Immigrants with Disabilities: The Complications for Children with Special Needs Added to the General Difficulties Faced by Immigrants of Overcoming the Barriers of Culture, Economics, Language and the Availability of Health Services


Waldman, H. Barry, Compton, Kristin, Perlman, Steven P., The Exceptional Parent


NUMBERS

About 4 million children in the U.S. have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant, roughly 7 percent of all people under 18 years of age. About 79 percent of these children are U.S. citizens because they were born in this country. In 2008, about 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born (about 8 percent) had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant (about 85 percent of whom are Hispanic). (1)

While the estimated overall number of illegal immigrants decreased between 2008 and 2009 (in part reflecting the decrease in job opportunities during the recession), the Department of Homeland Security reported there were 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the country. Despite the decrease, the continuing number of illegal immigrants has only added to the allegations that they have intensified the recession by taking away the jobs of legal residents. (2)

CONTROVERSY

The controversy regarding the impact of illegal immigrants reached fever pitch with the enactment in 2010 of Arizona's immigration legislation which requires aliens to carry their registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. (3) (At least 100,000 illegal immigrants left the state as a consequence of legislation. (4))

The Congressional Budget Office and other government agencies reported on the impact of illegal immigrants on state and local governments for economic, educational, and health services issues.

Anchor babies

Babies born to illegal immigrant mothers within U.S. borders are called "anchor babies" because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal immigrant mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent U.S. residency. Between 300,000 and 350,000 anchor babies annually become citizens. This interpretation follows from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads in part: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside." (5)

The term "anchor baby," however, is a misnomer to the extent that it implies that by having a baby in the US, temporary or illegal immigrants can "anchor" themselves in this country. In fact, a US citizen child cannot file for a US visa for its parents until the child is 21 years of age, and upon reaching that age the child must also be earning at least 125% of the US poverty threshold to be able to apply. Thus, temporary or illegal immigrants who have babies in the US have no means of remaining legally in the US; they must return home and wait until the child reaches age 21. (6)

Economics

In Los Angeles County, California, in 2008, welfare payments made to illegal immigrants for their U.S. citizen children, included $309 million in food stamps and $22 million from the welfare program. (7)

* State and local governments incur costs for providing services to unauthorized immigrants and have limited options for avoiding or minimizing these costs.

* However, the spending for these services represents a small percentage of the total amount by those governments to provide services to the general public.

* Nevertheless, the tax revenues that unauthorized immigrants generate to federal, state and local governments do not offset the total costs of services that are provided. The IRS estimates that about 6 million unauthorized immigrants file individual income tax return each year and are estimated to pay in about $7 billion per year into Social Security (but they are not eligible for benefits) (8)

National Public Radio information indicated that, "... overall, illegal immigrants don't have a big impact on U.S. wage rates. The most respected recent studies show that most Americans would notice little difference in their paychecks if illegal immigrants suddenly disappeared from the United States. …

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Illegal Immigrants with Disabilities: The Complications for Children with Special Needs Added to the General Difficulties Faced by Immigrants of Overcoming the Barriers of Culture, Economics, Language and the Availability of Health Services
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