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FIRST- AND SECOND-generation immigrant children—both legal and illegal-comprise the fastest-growing segment of the US population younger than age 15. They depend mainly on their parents and others for housing, food, schooling, medical care, and protection. As the debate between federal and state governments over fiscal responsibility for social welfare programs grows increasingly contentious, some states are trying to restrict immigrants' use of public schools and health services, including prenatal care and immunizations. Educators and health officials say such steps not only would harm immigrant children, but also could create a new permanent underclass and increase risks of disease in the rest of the population.
These concerns, many of them embodied in an article in the journal The Future of Children (1995;5:72-89), prompted the Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF) in Washington, DC, to enlist a blue-ribbon task force in a 2-year project to gather and synthesize data on the
Lamberg L. Nationwide Study of Health and Coping Among Immigrant Children and Families. JAMA. 1996;276(18):1455-1456. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540180009003