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What impact do children of illegal Hispanic immigrants have on the society of the...

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lolaaqui | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM via web

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What impact do children of illegal Hispanic immigrants have on the society of the US?

I'm writing a paper about the future of these children and the way they could impact either positively or negatively the social aspect of U.S.

Any Thoughts or books?

Thanks.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM (Answer #2)

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As with most things about human beings, there is no clear answer to this.  There are two major schools of thought:

  • Many people, conservatives in particular, worry that the large influx of illegal immigrants (and the children they have) will make America less "American."  They fear that these people will not assimilate and become American in the way that previous waves of immigrants have.  Instead of having our country be homogeneous and cohesive, they fear, we will have a country made up of many ethnic groups, each keeping to itself.
  • By contrast, liberals tend to think that the immigrants and their children will assimilate.  The children of illegal immigrants will become regular Americans and the children of those children will be even more so.  In this way, these people will not really have any negative impact on our society.  Instead, they will bring some new ways, but these new ways will simply go through the "melting pot" and become part of American society.

It is impossible to know for sure which of these outcomes is more likely.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:16 PM (Answer #3)

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It is interesting to note that both of the above scenarios happen with some regularity. There are illegal immigrants who have come here and done everything they can to assimilate into their new culture and become "Americans" in every sense of the word except true citizenship. On the other hand, there are those who have made their way here and have no intention of adapting or changing (assimilating) in any significant way, determined to maintain their culture exclusive to their surroundings and disinterested in citizenship.

The truth, of course, is that most of them probably do both--keep many aspects of their culture while adapting in others. It seems to me another trend may be happening. Just last week on the radio I heard a young female illegal (a college student, if I remember correctly) saying she was "proud" to be illegal and no longer ashamed of how she and her family got and stayed here. In terms of your question, then, it seems as if at least some illegals are becoming bold and feeling somehow empowered by their position of illegality.

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krcavnar | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:43 PM (Answer #4)

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Hispanic families tend to have a "family first" orientation rather than a individualistic orientation which is primarily an aspect of European culture.  That is not to say one is bad or one is good.  Our culture applauds and rewards individual efforts which directly counters those traditions of the Hispanic or Latino family.  I have had many students tell me that their family wants them to drop out of school to help support the family. It is more important  the individual contribute to the family than worry about his or her individual desires or  achievements.  This directly conflicts with the approach taken by most educators and the system which rewards individual achievements.  Often this may lead to a breakdown of the initial family structure.  A good book to read on this subject is Managing the Diverse Classroom by Rothstein-Fisch and Trumbull.

Many students whom I have taught will express that they nor their parents have any desire to become "American" except they want to be "legal" so as to avoid immigration issues.  They really don't want the American dream in any way except financially.  However, I see these same students discuss the same desires and goals as my other students.  We may ultimately have to change the structure of our education system to better serve these families but I cannot ever say that a generation of bright, hopeful young people whatever race or ethnicity could be a negative for our country.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:58 PM (Answer #5)

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An influx of illegal Hispanic children tie up multitudes of resources in this country that their illegal parents don't help replenish.  School personnel, food banks, free medical clinics, among other things which are funded by tax-payers to which their illegal parents do not belong. 

Having taught in school systems where more than half the student population is illegal, it is common to have students and their parents deported only to return in six months to a year and begin all over.  They come over illegally because they have no money to pay to become legal in the first place.  Most fully intend to become legal once they are here and working.  However, they quickly realize that they are able to make and keep more of their money by staying illegal, keeping their heads down, working under the table, and using social programs that were put in place to support legal citizens.

It is an ugly, cyclical system to which I have no adequate answers.

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krcavnar | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:14 PM (Answer #6)

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An influx of illegal Hispanic children tie up multitudes of resources in this country that their illegal parents don't help replenish.  School personnel, food banks, free medical clinics, among other things which are funded by tax-payers to which their illegal parents do not belong. 

Having taught in school systems where more than half the student population is illegal, it is common to have students and their parents deported only to return in six months to a year and begin all over.  They come over illegally because they have no money to pay to become legal in the first place.  Most fully intend to become legal once they are here and working.  However, they quickly realize that they are able to make and keep more of their money by staying illegal, keeping their heads down, working under the table, and using social programs that were put in place to support legal citizens.

It is an ugly, cyclical system to which I have no adequate answers.

I agree with you on all of the above.  I work at a school where over half of the students are illegal.  I also see the heavy burden caused by the illegal immigrants in our society.  I actually did not know that they could even get federal and state resources until I began to teach.  My dilemma is what do you do with those students, who for no fault of their own are stuck in a country with no documentation to become legal but who have done everything we as a society have asked them.  It's a "rock and a hard place" for us all. 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM (Answer #7)

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I tend to view this as an opportunity rather than a threat. In theory at least, the influx of Hispanic children, if they are integrated into American society, can only have a positive impact on a culture by making this culture more racially tolerant and aware of the wider world. Each child's life therefore represents a unique opportunity for America to learn more about itself and about the world at large.

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justaguide | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 14, 2011 at 12:38 AM (Answer #8)

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From most of the views posted here, what emerges as the main area of concern is that illegal people "make America less "American."

The use of terms like "regular Americans," makes it seem that the true American is one who does not want any diversity. People may be welcome from other countries and cultures, but only if they are willing to completely give up everything that identifies them and adopt what the true American way is (whatever that may be).

Shouldn't this forum of teachers, a group of people who instill values into impressionable young minds show a little tolerance for other cultures and be willing to accept diversity.

Please do no take this as my support for illegal immigrants; I think that is dangerous and harms every nation affected by it.

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lolaaqui | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 14, 2011 at 3:42 PM (Answer #9)

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But, here is another issue:  According to some statistics, children of Illegal immigrants tend to drop out schools, get in gangs, have children in the teen years,and in general they don't do that well in society.  The reason behind this it is that their parents have to works two to three jobs in order to live, so their kids are left at home to be raise by the TV set and alone.  What do you think?  Is it that the truth that Hispanics do not place as much emphasis on education as other cultures do?  It this a paradigm or simply prejudice.

Thanks to all.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 17, 2011 at 7:41 AM (Answer #10)

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As a classroom teacher, I have some personal experience with this. I saw two different types of immigrant children. There were the kids who worked twice as hard to learn in a foreign language; these kids had parents at home that came to this country for a better life. These parents pressed their children to take advantage of the education they were offered. The other type, and unfortunately the larger portion, do not care. They can't get into any real trouble because no one can speak to their parents; it often takes the child being in serious trouble for the school system to hunt down an overworked translator. The kids don't care about school and don't care to learn English. It's every frustrating because we have to translate their work for them (as per no child left behind) and "give them a chance" even though they aren't going to do it. The children from the first group will go on to college and add in a positive way to our society. This is the goal of allowing these children a free education even though they are illegal. However, the vast majority of illegal immigrant children fall into the second group. They will add negatively to our society. They frequently join gangs, flunk out or drop out of school, etc. I wish I had an answer as to what should be done, but I don't; all I can say is that my personal experience, for the most part, was negative. Even the children who worked so hard and wanted to learn put an incredible strain on school resources. With all the budget cuts and funding crisis, I don't see how we, as a county, can afford to continue in this manner.
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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 17, 2011 at 7:43 AM (Answer #11)

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Many of the things that have been mentioned in the above posts are not unique just to illegal immigrants. To me it is more of an issue of poverty than the status of citizenship. I see as many students who are citizens go through the same struggles mentioned above.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 17, 2011 at 8:10 AM (Answer #12)

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I would have to agree with post 11. Many students who are citizens have the same "I don't care attitude" that I spoke of earlier. It does have a lot to do with socio-economic status and ,in terms of education, the parents at home. However, the biggest difference between those children who are citizens and those who aren't is resources. Those children who are citizens have families who are or will be contributing to the pool of money and other resources for the country's schools and other programs. Illegal children do not have contributing families. I think this is the biggests difference in terms of strain on the system.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 17, 2011 at 9:30 PM (Answer #13)

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We're talking about children born in the United States, I assume, or in other words, US citizens.  I don't see why or how I would think these children would be any different, or contribute any more or less than the children of other generations of immigrants, both legal and undocumented.  Was it right for people to question the offspring of the Irish in the 1840s?  Or the children of Japanese Americans during World War II?

Overall, immigration has brought the best and brightest, not to mention the hardest working, individuals to American shores for centuries now, and to me, this latest wave of immigrants and their children fit into the same category.

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rudygtrz | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 8, 2011 at 6:27 AM (Answer #16)

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Child protective services should encompass not only the child's safety, but also their health and education.

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krcavnar | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:09 AM (Answer #17)

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You should read Just Like Us: A true story of four Mexican Girls coming of age in America, by Helen Thorpe.  I have found this book to be very enlightening.This author gives you a personal look inside one of these girls' lives and the hardships they face.  She also includes the issues of illegal immigration and the difficulties that accompany any reasonable solutions to the problem.  I honestly have not been able to put this book down. 

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:59 AM (Answer #18)

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I think any American has the opportunity to contribute in positive or negative ways regardless of where they come from. Children do not pay for the sins of their parents and thus I support the DREAM act.
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swimma-logan | Student, College Freshman | Valedictorian

Posted May 26, 2011 at 1:02 AM (Answer #19)

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I tend to view this as an opportunity rather than a threat. In theory at least, the influx of Hispanic children, if they are integrated into American society, can only have a positive impact on a culture by making this culture more racially tolerant and aware of the wider world. Each child's life therefore represents a unique opportunity for America to learn more about itself and about the world at large.

I agree that expanding culture, and racial tolerence are excellent things, there's a fine line between integrating and dominating culture. Cinco de Mayo should not be celebrated in America. Most of Mexico doesn't even celebrate it, because it isn't really Mexican independance. President Obama addressed this issue at one time, and said we needn't worry about illegal children learning English, and instead we should focus on having American children learn Spanish. That's where I draw the line.

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swimma-logan | Student, College Freshman | Valedictorian

Posted May 26, 2011 at 1:09 AM (Answer #20)

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An influx of illegal Hispanic children tie up multitudes of resources in this country that their illegal parents don't help replenish.  School personnel, food banks, free medical clinics, among other things which are funded by tax-payers to which their illegal parents do not belong. 

Having taught in school systems where more than half the student population is illegal, it is common to have students and their parents deported only to return in six months to a year and begin all over.  They come over illegally because they have no money to pay to become legal in the first place.  Most fully intend to become legal once they are here and working.  However, they quickly realize that they are able to make and keep more of their money by staying illegal, keeping their heads down, working under the table, and using social programs that were put in place to support legal citizens.

It is an ugly, cyclical system to which I have no adequate answers.

It's sad, but I have to agree. I don't think they're bad people, nor do they intend to screw us, but ultimately they're a drain on society.

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trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted May 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM (Answer #21)

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In terms of benefits, the children of Hispanic illegal aliens get free health care, as well as free education.  Some of these kids take advantage of all our country has to offer and flourish. However, many of these children become pregnant at early ages, drop out of school and become a burden on our society. Many of the students have difficulty in school and add to the drop out rate. Hispanics are one of the most underrepresented populations on the college level in the United States.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 29, 2011 at 10:53 AM (Answer #22)

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In terms of benefits, the children of Hispanic illegal aliens get free health care, as well as free education.  Some of these kids take advantage of all our country has to offer and flourish. However, many of these children become pregnant at early ages, drop out of school and become a burden on our society. Many of the students have difficulty in school and add to the drop out rate. Hispanics are one of the most underrepresented populations on the college level in the United States.

We need to look at the data before we make any sweeping generalizations.  It's more complicated than this.  We all have anecdotal examples of people who take advantage of the system (from all races and nationalities, unfortunately) but as you surely know, anecdotes do not make for conclusive evidence of anything.

That's why quotes such as:

"children of Hispanic illegal aliens get free health care, as well as free education"

and

"However, many of these children become pregnant at early ages, drop out of school and become a burden on our society"

are dangerously inaccurate, especially when only stated in the context of Latinos, and the undocumented.

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