The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus released an analysis today documenting the high cost to children in America, if the U.S. House of Representatives fails to deliver immigration reform legislation. The Cost of Inaction, authored by First Focus Center for the Children of Immigrants Director Wendy Cervantes and Harvard Assistant Professor of Education Roberto Gonzales, observes that the U.S. Senate passed immigration reform legislation nearly four months ago, and only House inaction has delayed progress on an issue with direct and persistent impact on millions of children.
“House Speaker John Boehner says the House must work its will on immigration. However, it’s children who will pay the price if the House doesn’t find the will to do the work before the year is over,” said Cervantes. “With the fiscal crisis now resolved, it’s time for the House to show leadership on an issue that is an urgent priority for our nation’s children.”
The Center for the Children of Immigrants analysis cites four overarching consequences for children, if the House fails to deliver immigration reform legislation:
1. More than 150,000 U.S. citizen children will lose their parents to immigration enforcement each year with a direct impact on their mental and physical health, economic security, and academic success, and millions more will continue to live in fear of a parent’s detention or deportation;
2. Immigrants who entered the U.S. as children without formal status, often called “DREAMers,” will continue live in a state of limbo and be denied the opportunity to fully contribute to America’s economy and society;
3. An estimated 5.5 million children living in mixed immigration status families will continue to face higher poverty and lower access to health care and other basic needs; and
4. Thousands of “unaccompanied” children who enter the U.S. without a parent or guardian every year will continue to be denied fundamental due process rights.
“Over the last several years, millions of children across the country have fallen victim to our enforcement-driven policies,” said Gonzales. “Unless these trends are reversed and individuals are provided with access to citizenship, our young people will continue to suffer the consequences due to Congressional inaction.”
Contact: Ed Walz, (202) 657-0685