Most children of immigrants are citizens
DENVER – Amid an intensifying national debate on immigration, the Colorado Children’s Campaign released a report Tuesday saying the majority of children born into the state’s immigrant families are U.S. citizens.It also found immigrants’ children are more likely to live in poverty and have trouble speaking English than other children, but that more of them live in two-parent households.It was the first time the nonprofit research and lobbying group had included immigration data in its annual report on the well-being of Colorado’s children. It will likely add fuel to a contentious battle over how many public services immigrant families, especially illegal immigrants, should receive.”Most of these kids are U.S. citizens. So we think these U.S. citizens regardless of being in an immigrant family or not should have the same opportunities as everyone else,” said Van Schoales, interim president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
State Rep. Dave Schultheis, a Colorado Springs Republican who is a proponent of tougher immigration controls, said the law grants citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants but that should not stop legislators from trying to enforce immigration laws against their parents.”They can decide whether to leave their children here or take them back to Mexico. That’s the parent’s decision, not the government’s decision,” Schultheis said.The report did not make recommendations on immigration policy, but Schoales said the Children’s Campaign supports providing services that will help immigrants’ children become contributing adults.”Regardless of what happens with immigration control, we are going to have a large number of kids who have different situations than those from nonimmigrant families,” he said.Schoales said school districts with large numbers of children from immigrant families could find people who can speak the parents’ language. He said schools should take advantage of the fact that most immigrant children live with both parents, because one may stay at home and have time to get more involved.Like other data included in its 13th “Kids Count” report, the information on immigrant families was taken from other surveys, including some by the Pew Hispanic Center, which uses Census data and federal immigration information.
A 2005 Pew Hispanic Center report estimated 200,000 to 250,000 illegal immigrants are in Colorado, including 30,000 to 40,000 children.The Children’s Campaign estimates immigrant families account for about 3 percent of the state’s total number of children.Defend Colorado Now, a group pushing for a ballot question to ban non-emergency services to illegal immigrants, didn’t dispute the report’s statistics.Defend Colorado Now’s review of immigration studies concluded that at least 220,000 illegal immigrants are in the state, but it did not include any findings on the number of children of immigrants who are U.S. citizens.